A federal judge in Florida issued an order Sunday allowing Norwegian Cruise Line to require passengers to prove they’ve been inoculated against Covid-19, despite a state ban that prohibits companies from adopting such measures.
U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams of the state’s southern district ruled that the cruise line would be “irreparably injured” by the state prohibition, leaving it no way to ensure that thousands of passengers who will remain in close quarters for days have been vaccinated.
The decision, which is preliminary and will remain in effect as the company pursues a permanent ruling, comes a week before its first scheduled departure in more than a year.
Norwegian sued Florida’s top health official in July after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a law banning companies from requiring proof of Covid-19 vaccination.
The state Health Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
DeSantis has said that the law was aimed at protecting Floridians’ “personal choice regarding vaccinations” and that no business or government agency “will be able to deny you services based on your decision.”
In a statement, Norwegian said the order will allow it to operate “in the safest way possible with 100% vaccination of all guests and crew when sailing from Florida ports.”
Tim Stelloh is a reporter for NBC News based in California.