LAKELAND, Fla. – Republican Governor Ron DeSantis held firm Friday on his pledge to enforce Florida’s vaccine passport law even though it could prevent the cruise lines from setting sail from Florida ports this summer.
The governor said during a stop in Lakeland that any company doing business in Florida, particularly cruise lines, cannot require proof of vaccination for a passenger to get on board.
Florida state law, which bans vaccine passports goes into effect on July 1, and is also outlined in an executive order from DeSantis.
“We are going to enforce Florida law,” DeSantis said. He made it clear that Florida cruise lines, such as Royal Caribbean, cannot make having a COVID-19 vaccination imperative to travel on the ship.
Celebrity Cruises, part of Royal Caribbean, has announced its ship Edge will sail from Port Everglades on June 26 with vaccinated passengers. The company said 98 percent of the ship’s crew and 95 percent of its passengers will be vaccinated.
But that would break state law, DeSantis said.
“You don’t pass laws and then not enforce them against giant corporations. It doesn’t work that way,” DeSantis said Friday.
Celebrity and other U.S. cruise lines were shut down by the Centers for Disease Control after widespread outbreaks onboard of COVID-19. Now the CDC said cruises can resume under strict health and safety guidelines.
“What the CDC has done closing the cruise industry for over a year, 15 months, 14 months almost, they do not have the authority to do it,” DeSantis said.
Don’t they? That question is now before a federal judge who on Thursday sent the case to mediation. DeSantis predicts the state will win, but it could be a Pyrrhic victory if cruise lines can’t guarantee their passengers have been vaccinated.