A federal court last night lifted cruise restrictions imposed on the state of Florida by the CDC in what has been deemed a big win for the cruise-loving state. The story is just the latest development in the ongoing saga between the CDC and Florida, a feud that has been rumbling for the past few months.
The verdict comes just as the cruise industry is gearing up for a busy few months, with cruises beginning to get underway once more to the delight of cruise-starved travelers all over the country. Here’s a look at everything you need to know about this story, plus a look at the developments that led us here.
CDC Vs. Florida – Information For Travelers
It’s fair to say that people have been completely happy with the decisions made by their governments throughout the duration of the pandemic, with accusations of acting too slowly or too strictly being thrown around all too often. However, few parties have been quite as upset as Florida – with the state electing to take the CDC to court in protest of the decisions they have been making over the past few months. With so much cruise traffic passing through the Sunshine State – 60% of all cruise passengers in the US – Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis first threatened legal action against the CDC back in March, and ever since then the two have been locked in various legal disputes.
Just last month, judges sided with Florida over the CDC in their lawsuit, which meant the CDC’s rules for restarting cruises were to be viewed as guidelines or recommendations, not as binding restrictions that had to be followed. However, after an appeals court sided with the CDC, the rules looked to be staying in place – until now.
A Win For Florida – What Travelers Should Know
On Friday, a ruling was made by a federal appeals court that meant the CDC’s pandemic restrictions no longer had a hold over how cruise ships operate in the state of Florida. The decision was made after the CDC’s initial successful appeal last Saturday was reversed, with the appeals court stating that the CDC had failed to demonstrate they were entitled to a stay pending appeal. The decision means that the CDC’s guidelines cannot be enforced in the state, but they can still be used as guidelines for cruise lines to follow.
The CDC argument centered around safety, with a court filing reading:
“The undisputed evidence shows that unregulated cruise ship operations would exacerbate the spread of Covid-19, and that the harm to the public that would result from such operations cannot be undone.”
However, despite the CDC’s convincing arguments, the judges sided with the state of Florida. Writing back in June, US District Judge Steven Merryday explained that “Florida persuasively claims that the conditional sailing order will shut down most cruises through the summer and perhaps much longer,” before adding that the Florida “faces an increasingly threatening and imminent prospect that the cruise industry will depart the state,” worrying prospects that undoubtedly held some sway in the final decision.
Given the twists and turns in the saga so far, this is unlikely to be the last we hear of the matter – particularly given Florida has already attracted the ire of some cruise lines for their anti-vaccine passport law. However, as it stands, Florida has the upper hand in their battle with the CDC, and it can now focus on getting ready for what’s bound to be a season like no other.
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