Featured Stories

Court stays DeSantis’ order lifting CDC virus rules on cruise ships

Virus Outbreak Florida cruise
(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

A three-judge appeals court panel is issuing a stay on Governor DeSantis’ order that blocked CDC rules on cruise ships leaving Florida ports.

Therefore, pandemic restrictions on Florida-based cruise ships will remain in place while the CDC appeals the June decision by U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday.

The lawsuit claims that the CDC’s “overly burdensome process” to allow cruising from Florida harms both the cruise industry and the state’s bottom line.

The CDC unilaterally halted cruise ships from sailing in March 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which had affected passengers and crew on numerous ships. The cruise industry generates billions of dollars and 159,000 jobs for Florida.

Merryday’s decision concluded that the CDC can’t enforce those rules for Florida-based ships and that they should merely be considered nonbinding recommendations or guidelines. Several cruise lines have begun preliminary cruises under those guidelines, which the Tampa judge agreed with Florida are too onerous.

“Florida persuasively claims that the conditional sailing order will shut down most cruises through the summer and perhaps much longer,” the judge wrote in June, adding that Florida “faces an increasingly threatening and imminent prospect that the cruise industry will depart the state.”

The 11th Circuit’s brief decision did not include any opinions from the judges, which the panel said would be released later. The decision noted that one appeals judge dissented.