Federal Court Removes CDC Rules for Florida-based Cruise Ships

Pandemic restrictions on Florida-based cruise ships are no longer in place under the latest ruling from a federal appeals court, while the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tries to fight a Florida lawsuit that challenges the rules.

A three-judge panel of the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily blocked a previous ruling in favor of Florida officials last Saturday, but the court reversed that decision on Friday, explaining that the CDC pending appeal. failed to demonstrate a right to .

Last weekend’s temporary stay put in place CDC rules regarding Florida-based cruise ships, while CDC appealed a June decision by U.S. District Judge Steven Meride. Those rules can no longer be enforced but can still be used as guidelines.

The lawsuit, championed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, claims that the CDC’s multi-step process to allow cruises from Florida is overly cumbersome, harming a multi-billion dollar industry that accounts for nearly half of what the state collected. Provides 159,000 jobs and revenue.

In court filings, Florida attorneys urged the 11th Circuit to deny the CDC’s request to uphold its rules.

Florida lawyers argued, “Equity is in favor of allowing the cruise industry to enjoy its first summer season in two years while this court settles the CDC’s arguments.”

However, the CDC said keeping the rules in place would prevent future outbreaks of COVID-19 on ships that are vulnerable to the spread of the virus because of their close quarters and frequent stops at foreign ports.

“Indisputable evidence suggests that uncontrolled cruise ship operations will exacerbate the spread of COVID-19, and the harm caused to the public by such operations cannot be undone,” the CDC said in a court filing.

Then the CDC implemented a four-stage conditional framework on October 30 last year that it said would allow the industry to gradually resume operations if certain limits were met. They included virus mitigation procedures and a simulated cruise to test regular passengers before starting them.

Meriday’s decision concluded that CDC could not apply those rules to Florida-based vessels and should be considered only as non-binding recommendations or guidelines. Many cruise lines have begun early cruises under guidelines that the Tampa judge agreed with Florida are much tougher.

“Florida strongly asserts that the conditional sailing order will close most cruises during the summer and probably longer,” the judge wrote in June, adding that Florida is “facing an increasingly dangerous and imminent prospect.” that the cruise industry will leave the state.”

Disney Cruise Lines conducted its first simulated sailing under CDC rules last Saturday when the Disney Dream sailed from Port Canaveral, Florida. The passengers were volunteer Disney employees.


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