Even among Republican governors, Florida’s Ron DeSantis is infamous for frequently approaching cartoon level of villainy. He’s enacted voter suppression laws. He’s against teaching America’s history of racism in schools. And he’s been staunchly against COVID safety measures, even as infection and fatality numbers spiked in his state. And as fears arise about yet another wave from an ever-mutating virus, he’s going next level: He’s forcing cruise ships to take unvaccinated passengers, public health be damned.
Late last week, federal health officials approved the first cruise ship to embark from the U.S., namely in Fort Lauderdale. But DeSantis, perhaps the most Florida Man of Florida men, was quick to get in the way. He took issue with their safety measures, namely that they require passengers to prove they’ve been vaccinated before boarding. In fact, he stated the industry wouldn’t be exempt from a new state law, which bans “vaccine passports” to prove that they’re safe from a highly contagious disease. Any line turning away unvaccinated passengers, he said, would be fined $5,000 a person.
Cruise ships were one of the first major vectors of transmission when COVID started spreading around the world. The industry has laid dormant ever since. Getting approval from the CDC to resume service would be a boon to the industry — but DeSantis seems to be hellbent on making them unsafe.
DeSantis came under fire after his actions went public, but in response, he did what most Republicans do these days: He doubled down.
“We are going to enforce Florida law,” DeSantis told reporters Friday. “I mean, we have Florida law. We have laws that protect the people and the privacy of our citizens, and we are going to enforce it. In fact, I have no choice but to enforce it.”
But maybe he does have a choice. Many people reminded him that piling potentially contagious passengers into tight spaces is incredibly dangerous.
Florida Gov. Ron De Santis seems to want cruise ship passengers to get sick. Says he will fine cruise companies $5,000 for each person who is required to show proof of vaccination before boarding.
— Jim Roberts (@nycjim) May 30, 2021
If you’re looking for a way to let one COVID infected, unvaccinated person to infect hundreds or thousands of other unvaccinated people, this may be the perfect way to do it. https://t.co/5JTqZjMasV
— S.V. Dáte (@svdate) May 30, 2021
I wouldn’t TOUCH a cruise ship so long as this is the case. They’re floating Petri dishes. If people aren’t vaccinated, then screw it. https://t.co/uOY8u8i6zk
— John Aravosis 🇺🇸🇬🇷🏳️🌈 (@aravosis) May 30, 2021
Others pointed out the government forcing businesses to do something they don’t want to do kind of goes against the base principles of conservatavism.
It is not conservative to tell cruise lines what rules they can have. And it is not conservative to create some odd new protected class for the non-vaxed. Citizens may do what they wish. Businesses have the same right. Some folks I like are wrong on this. https://t.co/mbflysepf1
— Mark Davis (@MarkDavis) May 30, 2021
And others suggested this could backfire severely, robbing the state of one of its biggest industries.
Guess the cruise industry might be moving out of Florida. https://t.co/U8EZoRDcaO
— Katie Hill (@KatieHill4CA) May 30, 2021
(Via Orlando Sentinel)