Gov. Ron DeSantis is facing scrutiny from political opponent U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist for his vaccine passport ban, which has led to Norwegian Cruise Line threatening to pull ships from Florida ports.
“Governor DeSantis would rather wipe out a billion dollar industry in our state and cost thousands of Floridians their jobs instead of making sure folks can take a COVID-free cruise,” Crist said in a statement. “How does that make sense?”
The cruise company, which owns Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, is threatening to remove their ships from Florida ports if the state maintains laws that will not allow them to verify the vaccination status of customers.
Gov. DeSantis signed the controversial bill (SB 2006) on Monday, which prohibits the use of “vaccine passports” and preempts local government emergency orders. DeSantis is using his current executive power to enact the legislation through June, since the bill will not take effect until July 1.
“Instead of standing in the way of Florida’s businesses who want to re-open, re-hire, and rebuild our economy, Gov. DeSantis should be empowering businesses to succeed and thrive,” said Crist, who announced his candidacy in the 2022 Governor’s race on Tuesday.
This is the latest development in ongoing issues encompassing the cruise ship industry and GOP state leadership.
Back in April, the state filed a lawsuit against the federal government and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to demand cruise ships “open immediately.”
Guidelines from the CDC and federal government would let ships skip practice voyages and begin trips if 98% of the crew and 95% of passengers are vaccinated, accompanied by other mitigation efforts, according to The Associated Press.
But, cruise lines wouldn’t be able to do so under recently signed legislation.
DeSantis criticized the CDC’s requirements at Satellite Beach Wednesday, urging for the reopening of the cruise industry.
“Now here we are a year later and there’s no end in sight,” DeSantis said Wednesday. “Now they say you can only cruise if you have 98% of people show proof of vaccination. But that’s ridiculous. They’re cruising in other parts of the world where they don’t even have availability of vaccines yet, where they have much higher COVID than in the United States.”