Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCLH) resumed operations for the first time in 18 months Sunday, with a 100% vaccination mandate for all guests and staff.
CEO Frank Del Rio told Yahoo Finance he is hoping other companies follow suit, and says it’s a failure of leadership in the country to not have a similar vaccine mandate nationwide.
“Our leadership has failed us,” Del Rio said.
“Can you imagine if 700,000 people died of anything other than covid, the outrage that there would be, what government would do to stop that? And this government, whether we’re talking about local, state or federal — and I’m not talking Republicans, I’m not talking Democrats, I’m talking government,” Del Rio said.
In addition to the lack of federal mandates, the company has had to battle state leadership in order to implement the mandate.
The company scored a win in a legal battle with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who banned vaccine passports back in April. The cruise line won in federal court, but now faces an appeal.
“It’s beyond bizarre. It’s shameful,” Del Rio said.
“I mean, come on, give it up. This is a pandemic we are talking about, people are dying every day, Florida now is the epicenter of the epicenter. What does it take for common sense to rule?” he added.
The cruise line has also implemented 74 protocols to keep guests and crew safe. But Del Rio laments the lack of government leadership at both the federal and state levels.
“Here’s a state that relies on tourism; it’s the number one industry. And the number one priority of any hospitality business is to keep their customers safe,” he said.
Del Rio is confounded by how “the leadership in this country has not stood up to the realities of this pandemic, to require vaccinations, is beyond me.”
Meanwhile, he is hopeful the surge caused by the variant subsides soon, and that business can return to normal.
“It’s never going to go away, it’s going to become an endemic situation,” Del Rio said.
“Society has learned to live with this virus,” he added.
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