Health Law

Florida can ban businesses from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination, 11th Circuit rules

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A federal appeals court is allowing Florida to enforce a law that bans businesses from requiring proof of a COVID-19 vaccination.

In a 2-1 decision issued Oct. 6, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Atlanta vacated a preliminary injunction that blocked enforcement of the law.

Any burden on interstate commerce caused by the law’s ban on vaccine requirements is outweighed by the local benefits, the appeals court said in an opinion by Chief Judge William H. Pryor Jr. Those benefits include the state’s interest in protecting the medical privacy of its residents and in preventing economic discrimination against them, the 11th Circuit said.

The appeals court also said there is no First Amendment violation because the law regulates economic conduct and only incidentally burdens speech.

The 11th Circuit ruled in a challenge by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, which had required its customers to provide proof of vaccination.

On Monday, however, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings said it was lifting the requirement beginning Oct. 4, according to this CNBC story.

Judge Robin S. Rosenbaum dissented. She argued that COVID-19 has exacted a heavy toll on commerce, and the Florida law makes the problem worse by facilitating the spread of COVID-19 on cruise ships and around the world.

Hat tip to Law360, which had coverage of the decision.

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