Florida governor, cruise lines at odds over vaccine passports

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AMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — More cruise lines are getting the green light to enter the test cruise phase, but a dispute over vaccine passports could keep ships from setting sail in Florida this summer.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says cruise ships will be allowed to sail with passengers as long as 98% of crew members and 95% of the passengers are fully vaccinated. But an order signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in April bars businesses from questioning a customer’s vaccination status. Cruise ships are not exempt from the rule.

“Who controls what happens on a cruise ship, the CDC or the state of Florida?” asks Marc Bokoff, the owner of Cruise Planners in Lakewood Ranch.

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Bokoff says vaccine passports may be the only way to bring the multi-billion dollar industry back to the Sunshine State.

“It’s the only way to really make sure that things get started again safely. And that’s the big key here, is the safety of the passengers, the safety of the crew,” he said. “If you’re not willing to get a yellow fever vaccine, you’re not going to go to Africa. If you’re not willing to take a COVID vaccine, you’re not going to go on a cruise ship.”

Multiple cruise companies are threatening to pull their businesses out of Florida.

“I think we all should be responsible and show our vaccine cards,” said Linda Hensman of North Port.

“I would not go on a cruise if people don’t show their card,” said George Stilo of Sarasota.

The governor’s order is set to be signed into law on July 1.

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