Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida has won a federal lawsuit against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the restriction of cruise lines in the state. The CDC had ruled that no cruise ship must sail from Florida except 95% of the passengers are vaccinated against COVID-19. Last year March, the agency issued a “no sail order” to all cruise lines in the United States and only relaxed the rules in October for cruise lines that met strict regulations.
In a lawsuit filed by Gov. DeSantis and Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, the state government said the “conditional sailing order” will ground economic activity in the state and also paralyze the entire cruise industry. In his ruling, US District Judge Steven Merryday revoked the CDC’s order and said cruise lines should begin to sail again from July 18 without adhering to the CDC’s requirements. He tasked the CDC to propose a narrower guideline by July 2.
“The CDC has been wrong all along, and they knew it,” DeSantis said after the court ruling. “The CDC and the Biden Administration concocted a plan to sink the cruise industry, hiding behind bureaucratic delay and lawsuits. Today, we are securing this victory for Florida families, for the cruise industry, and for every state that wants to preserve its rights in the face of unprecedented federal overreach.”
Judge Merryday said any CDC’s order on the sailing ability of the cruise industry should only be a “non-binding ‘consideration,’ ‘recommendation’ or ‘guideline’” as from July 18 and not enforced. The judge said this is the first time the CDC will be implementing a gag on the entire cruise industry and it is disabling and will cause loss of billions of dollars in the industry at best.
“In a word, never has CDC implemented measures as extensive, disabling, and exclusive as those under review in this action,” Merryday wrote. “Viewed with the benefit of history, CDC’s assertion of a formidable and unprecedented authority warrants a healthy dose of skepticism.”
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said the court’s ruling is a victory for all Floridians who depend on the cruise industry to live. He insisted that the “Federal government does not, nor should it ever, have the authority to single out and lockdown an entire industry indefinitely.”
Recently, the CDC warned that the risks of coronavirus infection on cruise ships are still high and that people should avoid sea travel unless they are fully vaccinated.
“Since the virus spreads more easily between people in close quarters aboard ships, the chance of getting covid-19 on cruise ships is high,” the agency wrote. “It is especially important that people who are not fully vaccinated with an increased risk of severe illness avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises.”