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Mediation fails between CDC and Florida in lawsuit to get cruise ships sailing

In:
03Jun2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Court ordered mediation between the State of Florida and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) appears to have failed.

According to a state official, court ordered mediation between the two parties has not reached any kind of a settlement.

A report by WESH says an official in Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration confirmed the mediation effort over the last few days has gone no where.

Florida is suing the CDC to drop the Conditional Sail Order (CSO) so that cruise ships can restart operations immediately.

Read moreWhy does the CDC regulate the cruise lines?

ClickOrlando reported Taryn Fenske, communications director for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, issued a statement that the state filed a response to the CDC’s request for more time to relitigate the case.

"After more than a week of good-faith negotiations by the State of Florida in mediation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), after Florida sued the CDC to overturn the agencies unlawful No Sail Order, the CDC continues to impose ridiculous, unlawful regulations that targets a single industry by imposing vaccine requirements – something no other business or industry must do."

"These requirements not only discriminate against one industry, but children, families, and small businesses. Despite Florida’s sincere efforts to reach a compromise, the United States District Court declared an impasse."

On May 18, Judge Steven D. Merryday ordered Florida and the CDC into mediation to work out an agreement by June 1st.

Mediation is a common process in the courts where a neutral third person called a mediator helps the parties discuss and try to resolve the dispute.

The official with DeSantis’ administration says the state will wait on a ruling on its lawsuit, which is expected "soon."

Florida believes the CDC does not have the right to hold back the cruise industry for this long, and is unlawful.

Instead, Florida wants cruise lines to be able to sail without any kind of restart approval process.

The CDC not only believes it has the jurisdiction to act in this manner, but thinks dropping the CSO would create a problem for the cruise lines.

In legal paperwork filed this week, the CDC explained an injunction would end cruising in Alaska for the season (because Alaska Tourism Restoration Act (ATRA) only benefits ships operating with a Conditional Sailing Certificate under the CSO).

The ATRA temporarily permits “covered cruise ships” to meet an alternative standard, where a “covered cruise ship” is defined as one that  “has been issued, operates in accordance with, and retains a COVID–19 Conditional Sailing Certificate of the CDC” and “operates in accordance” with that Certificate.

In addition, the CDC thinks if the CSO was waived as a result of the lawsuit, the public would not trust cruise ships are safe, "an injunction would cast considerable doubt on public confidence in the industry, particularly in the State of Florida, which is publicly battling with the industry over its own laws."

The same official from Governor DeSantis' administration says Florida will maintain its ban on cruise lines asking for proof of vaccination from passengers.

Florida would fine the cruise line $5,000 for each passenger who is asked for proof.