Florida Businesses Prohibited From Requiring Patrons To Provide Documentation of Covid-19 Vaccination
[guest post by Dana]
Even before the pandemic, you wouldn’t find me on a cruise ship. Now, “vacationing” on a giant floating petri dish where there is no requirement for proof of Covid-19 vaccination makes it even a harder pass for me:
Florida and cruise companies could be locked in a battle over vaccine requirements as the state puts a ban on vaccine passports while cruise lines continue to mandate the jabs for passengers and crew.
On April 2, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order banning vaccine passports and local businesses from requiring this proof of vaccination. This ban applies to cruise lines as well…
“The Governor’s Executive Order provides that businesses in Florida are prohibited from requiring patrons or customers to provide any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or post-transmission recovery to gain access to, entry upon, or service from the business,” McCloud told Insider in an email. “Therefore, the Executive Order prohibits cruise lines from requiring vaccine passports for their Florida operations.”
The CDC lists the most common causes for visits to a ship’s medical center:
Approximately 3%–11% of conditions reported to cruise ship medical centers are urgent or an emergency. Approximately 95% of illnesses are treated or managed onboard, and 5% require evacuation and shoreside consultation for medical, surgical, or dental problems. Roughly half of passengers who seek medical care are older than 65 years of age. Most medical center visits are due to acute illnesses, of which respiratory illnesses (19%–29%); seasickness (10%–25%); injuries from slips, trips, or falls (12%–18%); and gastrointestinal (GI) illness (9%–10%) are the most frequently reported diagnoses. Death rates for cruise ship passengers, most often from cardiovascular events, range from 0.6 to 9.8 deaths per million passenger-nights.
The most frequently reported cruise ship outbreaks involve respiratory infections, GI infections (such as norovirus), and vaccine-preventable diseases other than influenza, such as varicella (chickenpox). To reduce the risk of onboard introduction of communicable diseases by embarking passengers, ships may conduct medical screening during embarkation to identify ill passengers, preventing them from boarding or requiring isolation if they are allowed to board.
And specifically, Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (VPDs):
Although most cruise ship passengers are from countries with routine vaccination programs (such as the United States and Canada), many crew members originate from developing countries with low immunization rates. Outbreaks of measles, rubella, meningococcal disease and, most commonly, varicella, have been reported on cruise ships. Preventive measures to reduce the spread of VPDs onboard cruise ships should be followed:
All passengers should be up-to-date with routine vaccinations before travel, as well as any required or recommended vaccinations specific for their destinations…
Crew members should have documented proof of immunity to VPDs
Some cruise lines have already announced their plans to protect crew and guests:
Part of Norwegian Cruise Lines Holding’s return to sailing plan includes a sweeping COVID-19 vaccine mandate for both guests and crew aboard Norwegian’s three brands: Norwegian, Oceania, and Regent Seven Seas. The ships will also initially operate at a reduced capacity, and will implement several other health protocols to create a “safe, ‘bubble-like’ environment.”
Silversea Cruises became the second major cruise line to announce it will require COVID-19 vaccinations for all passengers when it resumes global itineraries on June 5.
Meanwhile, Gov. DeSantis is facing questions about whether he has the authority to impose the ban:
The Coast Guard and the CDC have asserted control over pandemic-related cruise line activity at the port, but most decisions have been made by a “unified command” that includes the state, federal and county governments, working with the cruise lines, said Ellen Kennedy, spokeswoman for Port Everglades.
Asked about DeSantis’ assertion, Port Director Jonathan Daniels said by email: “We are working with the cruise lines and through all local, state and federal regulations and guidelines to effect a safe restart to cruising.”
…Jim Walker – an attorney based in South Florida with a specialization in maritime law – who told the Sun Sentinel that DeSantis may not have the jurisdiction needed to either prohibit cruise lines from enforcing a vaccine mandate or bring cruises back.
Here is a report about different cruise lines and their current position on requiring ( or not requiring) proof of Covid-19 vaccinations.
I’ll leave you with a little trip down memory lane:
There is little doubt among experts that the handling of the virus on board the Diamond Princess was an abject failure from the onset. Simply put by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the (US) National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, “…it failed”.
Despite this acknowledgment, there is still no clear answer on who should be in charge in future situations that mimic this one. The Japanese government and the Diamond Princess corporate leadership disagreed from the beginning about who was in charge. At the time, the Japanese officials feared bringing potentially infected passengers onshore, since there was no clear place to quarantine everyone. And, they did not want the virus to spread throughout Japan.
After 39 days on the ship (and over three weeks in quarantine) the last of the 2,666 passengers finally disembarked and began their journeys home on February 27th; only to reset the clock and begin an additional two-week quarantine in their home countries. However, the ship remained docked in Japan for another three months while the company focused its efforts on quarantining and repatriating the remaining crew members who had not yet departed on government charter flights.