A federal judge is set to rule on Florida’s motion for a preliminary injunction in the state’s lawsuit against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Conditional Sailing Order,” which has suspended cruise line operations amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
In its complaint, Florida has alleged that the CDC’s order supersedes the department’s authority. Attorneys for the state have said that the CDC has yet to present any comprehensive set of safety guidelines under which cruise companies may be able to resume operations. Consequently, it has been difficult for cruise lines to meet the federal government’s standards.
With most cruises suspended, Florida alleges that it has suffered financial injury by having to pay millions of dollars to unemployed people associated with the ports and cruise industry, alongside deceased tax income and lost port fees.
The lawsuit, notes WTSP.com, was announced by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in April.
“I’m happy to announce that, on the behalf of the tens of thousands of Floridians whose livelihood depends on the viability of an open cruise industry, today, Florida is fighting back,” DeSantis said at the time.
Gov. DeSantis claimed that the CDC’s rules have neither prevented people from traveling nor sailing—instead, DeSantis says, people who want to go on cruises have been departing port from destinations like the Bahamas.
“Instead of flying to Miami, spending money to stay in our hotels, spending money to eat in our restaurants before they get on the ship, they’re going to fly to the Bahamas,” DeSantis claimed. “And they’re going to get on the ships from the Bahamas and they’re going to spend the money in the Bahamas.”
The lawsuit was filed shortly after Gov. DeSantis signed a law which bans companies from requiring people to show proof of coronavirus vaccinations at cruise ports across the state.
However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s tentative plan set guidance necessitating that 98% of cruise crew be vaccinated, and that 95% of passengers be inoculated against COVID-19, too.
This guidance, says WTSP, would allowed ships to begin setting sail again in July.
John Murray, the CEO of Florida’s Port Canaveral, said the order did not make much sense—both because many prospective cruise passengers have already been vaccinated, and because there are no similar restrictions on domestic travel in the United States.
“I can get in an Uber, go to the airport, change planes in Atlanta, fly to Las Vegas, go to a casino, play the tables every day, eat in the restaurants every day, never leave the hotel, get back on a plane, take another flight to Atlanta, get home, take another Uber, what’s the difference in that and going on a cruise ship, except that cruise ship’s a contained bubble. Everybody’s been tested before getting on,” Murray said.
The Middle District of Florida is expected to make a ruling in the coming days.