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CDC appeals overturning Florida's cruise ship lawsuit

In:
06 Jul 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

A few weeks after a federal judge sided with Florida in a lawsuit against the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC), the agency is appealing the decision.

On June 18, a federal judge ruled in favor of Florida in a lawsuit against the CDC because the agency overstepped its authority.

In a court filing on Tuesday, the CDC appealed the verdict to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

Florida sued the CDC because it felt the CSO unfairly singled out one industry and was hurting Florida's economy, and a judge agreed with Florida.

In the 124 page summary, Judge Steven D. Merryday granted a preliminary injunction for Florida ports.

"This order finds that Florida is highly likely to prevail on the merits of the claim that CDC's conditional sailing order and the implementing orders exceed the authority delegated to CDC," the ruling said.

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

The intention of the ruling was to bring cruise ships in line with other forms of leisure travel and entertainment, such as airlines, railroads, hotels, casinos, sports venues, buses, subways, and others.

The CDC instituted a ban on all cruise ships from the United States in March 2020 due to the global health crisis. Then on October 30, 2020 the CDC imposed a four-phase conditional framework it said would allow the industry to gradually resume operations if certain thresholds were met.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis sued the CDC in April as a way to fight back against the CDC, which had not granted any permission to sail at the time.

"The CDC has been wrong all along, and they knew it," DeSantis said.

Since Judge Merryday issued his ruling, the CDC has granted permission for Freedom of the Seas to sail from the United States, and approved a number of other test cruises.

Five additional Royal Caribbean cruise ships have test cruises scheduled for July and August from ports in Florida, Washington, and Texas.

Carnival Cruise Line also restarted operations from PortMiami over the weekend with Carnival Horizon.

UPDATE: The CDC also filed a motion for a stay of the preliminary injunction on Tuesday.

In its court filing, the CDC wants the injunction to be stayed before the preliminary injunction takes effect on July 18, 2021.

The CDC believes the Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) plays an important role in keeping passengers and crew safe on a ship, "It does not shut down the cruise industry but instead provides a sensible, flexible framework for re-opening, based on the best available scientific evidence."

"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."

"Cruise ships are uniquely situated to spread COVID-19, due in part to their close quarters for passengers and crew for prolonged periods, and stops at foreign ports that risk introducing new variants of COVID-19 into the United States."

In the CDC's opinion, "The balance of the harms and the public interest thus overwhelmingly favor Defendants and maintaining the status quo pending appeal."