Florida and Texas Republican governors battle cruise passengers over vaccine needs
DeSantis signed a law last month that would ban “vaccine passports” and impose a fine of $ 5,000 per incident on companies that require proof of vaccination. At a rate of $ 5,000 per passenger, this could lead Florida to seek massive fines on cruise ship operators.
The move came just weeks after he sued the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over his cruise rules in an attempt to allow cruises to resume unconditionally. Currently, the CDC requires that 95% of passengers and 95% of crew members be vaccinated in order to bypass the agency-required test crossings on ships planning to sail with more unvaccinated passengers.
After court mediation failed, DeSantis said last week that CDC rules had “put the (cruise) industry on hold for 15 months.” He said the vaccine requirements would effectively ban families with young children who have not been eligible for the vaccine, or whose parents decide not to get them vaccinated, from taking cruises.
“We were basically saying, like honestly, just let them navigate,” DeSantis said. “If we win the case, it will open. They will all leave Florida. They will all do so under Florida law.”
Several companies remain firm on the requirement
Despite the insistence of DeSantis and Abbott, several cruise lines said this week that they plan to make vaccinations mandatory for departures from Florida and Texas this summer.
Celebrity Cruises will be the first to attempt to sail between DeSantis and the CDC, with a departure from Florida scheduled for June 26. The company requires all passengers over 16 to be vaccinated.
Meanwhile, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings on Monday announced plans to resume cruises from Miami in August – and will require all passengers to be vaccinated.
“At the end of the day cruise ships have engines and propellers and rudders, and God forbid, we can’t operate in the state of Florida for any reason, so there are other states that we operate from, and we can operate from the Caribbean for a ship that otherwise would have gone to Florida, ”CEO Frank Del Rio said on a call for results in May.
In its announcement on Monday, Norwegian said vaccines would be mandatory on its August 15 cruise from Miami. In a statement, Del Rio praised DeSantis for pushing for the cruise industry to be allowed to resume amid the pandemic, but gave no indication the company would back down on its vaccine needs.
“We are currently in communication with its staff and legal counsel to ensure that we can provide the safest cruise experience for our passengers departing from the cruise capital of the world,” Del Rio said in the statement.
Other cruise lines accompanied the Republican governors. Royal Caribbean encourages passengers on cruises departing from Texas and Florida to get vaccinated, but will not require them to show proof.
Last confrontation between GOP and Big Business
Since Trump stepped down in January, other Republicans have taken over his mantle. Missouri Senator Josh Hawley and others have spoken out against tech companies, including Twitter and Facebook, which both banned Trump after the Jan.6 riot on Capitol Hill. And in states like Georgia, Florida and Texas, where GOP officials have responded to Trump’s lies about widespread electoral fraud by pushing for measures that would make voting more difficult, those officials have also condemned companies – including American Airlines and Dell in Texas and Delta and Coca-Cola in Georgia – which publicly opposed the restrictive measures.