Florida asks federal court to block CDC order and allow cruise lines to resume trips

Florida sues CDC over restrictions on cruises

Peter Cranis, executive director of the Space Coast Office of Tourism, explains why the state filed a lawsuit against the CDC over cruise restrictions.

The state of Florida filed a request in federal court Thursday for an immediate halt to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s sailing restrictions, in its latest effort to restart the cruise line industry.

In its request for a preliminary junction, the state warned the no-sail order would do lasting damage to Florida’s economy if it remained in place. Under the CDC’s current "Framework for Conditional Sailing," cruise lines are unable to operate unless they adhere to strict requirements outline by the federal government.

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"Without this court's intervention, Florida will lose millions, if not billions, of dollars," the state said in its filing, according to the Orlando Sentinel. "And if companies like Carnival follow through on their threat to move operations abroad, the State of Florida may never be the same."

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The CDC first issued a "no sail order" for US cruise lines last March in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The agency issued a conditional sailing order allowing cruises to resume last October, but only if operators adhere to a rigorous set of guidelines.

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Florida argued the CDC overstepped its authority by implementing the cruise line restrictions without Congressional legislation or a presidential directive to act. The motion noted that the initial order was linked to a "limited delegation from Congress to inspect and disinfect property and animals."

"Congress did not, in granting those limited powers, authorize the CDC to shut down a multibillion-dollar industry for over a year," the motion said.

Earlier this month, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody filed suit in a bid to overturn the CDC order and allow cruise lines to resume operations. The state of Alaska later indicated that it would join Florida’s lawsuit against the CDC.

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Major cruise line operators such as Royal Caribbean and Carnival have not joined the lawsuit. In a video messaged posted earlier this week, Royal Caribbean CEO Richard Fain noted that CDC officials said cruises may be able to resume on a limited basis by mid-summer.

"We agree with that assessment and we're more optimistic than ever that a realistic path forward can be achieved in that time frame," Fain said. "That would enable a summer season in Alaska and elsewhere."

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