Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis claimed victory Friday after a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “conditional sailing order” that halted cruise line operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday approved the injunction but noted it would not take effect until July 18. The court said CDC officials have until July 2 to propose a narrower set of guidelines that would allow cruise lines to sail in a timely manner and to “support the proposed terms with current scientific evidence.”
“The CDC has been wrong all along, and they knew it,” DeSantis said in a statement. “The CDC and the Biden Administration concocted a plan to sink the cruise industry, hiding behind bureaucratic delay and lawsuits. Today, we are securing this victory for Florida families, for the cruise industry, and for every state that wants to preserve its rights in the face of unprecedented federal overreach.”
The state of Florida had sought an immediate halt to the CDC’s order, under which cruise lines are unable to operate unless they adhere to strict requirements outlined by the federal government. The state argued the order would do irreparable harm to Florida’s economy, potentially costing “millions, if not billions, of dollars” in revenue and pushing cruise line operators to relocate.
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 if they met the requirements.
“Today’s ruling is a victory for the hardworking Floridians whose livelihoods depend on the cruise industry,” Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said in a statement. “The federal government does not, nor should it ever, have the authority to single out and lock down an entire industry indefinitely.”
When the injunction takes effect on July 18, the CDC’s order will become non-binding for ships based in Florida ports and function as a set of recommendations rather than requirements.
Federal attorneys argued the CDC was within its authority to issue regulations for cruise lines to prevent the spread of disease. The CDC asserted an injunction would not protect Florida from further harm because another COVID-19 outbreak on cruise lines could result in additional harm to the state’s economy.