Florida has decided to fight its way into launching a U.S. cruise season.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis held a news conference at PortMiami on Thursday (Apr. 8), telling journalists that the Sunshine State is suing the Biden administration to reopen the cruise industry "immediately" and allow cruises to "resume safely.”
"We don't believe the federal government has the right to mothball a major industry for over a year based on very little evidence and very little data. And I think we have a good chance for success," DeSantis said.
The complaint was filed by state Attorney General Ashley Moody in federal district court against the Health and Human Services Department and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
"Our litigation seeks to end this federal overreach and allow Floridians to safely get back to work and travel," Moody said in a statement.
Pressure is on
The news comes as cruise lines and trade groups push the CDC to allow the resumption of cruises from U.S. ports now that more Americans are getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
It includes a phased process that companies must meet in order to sail out of U.S.-based ports and the CDC has previously indicated that its CSO will remain in place until at least November.
The cruise industry, which has begun unveiling itineraries from Caribbean and European ports to get around the CDC’s order, has been asking health officials to modify its CSO so ships can return to American waters by July.
The CDC updated its guidance for cruise ships on April 2, outlining new technical instructions while stressing the need for COVID-19 vaccinations as a necessary step before passenger sailings can resume out of U.S. ports.
In a report this week, following word that Carnival may relocate its ships, a CDC spokesperson suggested that U.S. cruises may be allowed to resume by mid-summer, under certain conditions. Although, no official details have yet been announced.
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which represents 95 per cent of global ocean-going cruise capacity, has called the CDC’s latest framework “burdensome” and “largely unworkable.”
Florida is asking the court to block the CDC from enforcing its CSO, which it says is effectively a ban on cruises.
The state is also arguing that cruises “should be allowed to operate with reasonable safety protocols."
"The CDC has continued these actions against the cruise industry even as it has treated similar industries differently, including ones that hold passengers in close quarters," the complaint states.
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