Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is among a number of state leaders who opposed efforts by Democrats and certain businesses to implement COVID-19 vaccine requirements in order to obtain goods and services.
The debate resulted in a legal dispute between the governor and Royal Caribbean, which had planned to require proof of vaccination for passengers, but recently backed down from the fight.
DeSantis signed a law banning so-called vaccine passports in his state — and the prohibition is set to take effect next month.
According to Breitbart, there had been some concern that cruise companies would abandon the state, but the governor essentially called their bluff by standing firm on his position.
His intuition was apparently correct, as indicated by an announcement on Monday that Royal Caribbean would exempt travelers boarding ships at Florida ports from its proof of vaccination requirement. Singapore is the only other exception.
“For cruises departing from all U.S. ports (except Florida ports) [emphasis in original], Royal Caribbean requires all guests 16 years of age or older to be fully vaccinated, and from Aug. 1, all guests 12 years of age or older must be fully vaccinated,” the statement revealed.
Children for whom vaccines have not yet been approved will be allowed to board provided they “follow certain protocols” and produce a negative COVID-19 test result.
“On cruises department from Florida ports, all guests are strongly recommended to be fully vaccinated,” Royal Caribbean said. “Based on our guest surveys, we expect 90% of all our guests to be fully vaccinated. Guests eligible but not fully vaccinated or able to show proof of vaccination will be subject to testing and additional health protocols at their own expense.”
Such testing and protocols will be complimentary for children not yet eligible for the vaccine.
The company statement went on to note that all crew members on its cruise ships are fully vaccinated and that additional precautions related to ventilation and cleaning will be taken. Royal Caribbean affirmed that it would abide by all applicable laws and outlined its plan for testing and vaccine checks for various ports around the world.
Just days before the announcement, a Florida lawsuit against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reached a critical point when a court’s attempt to mediate a settlement reached an impasse. DeSantis has accused the agency of imposing strict guidelines on the cruise industry and the lawsuit challenged its authority on the matter.
In a statement to Breitbart, the governor said: “Just understand, if the CDC would take their boot off the neck of the industry, they would sail from Florida. This is not as much a disagreement between Florida and the cruise lines as it is between [the] CDC.”