Florida sues feds to allow cruise ships to sail

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The state of Florida filed a lawsuit against the federal government Thursday, demanding that it allow cruise ships to sail from US ports immediately – more than a year after the coronavirus pandemic triggered the shutdown of the industry.

The suit — filed in the US District Court in Tampa against the Biden administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Department of Health Human Services — seeks to overturn the “unlawful” no-sail order issued by the CDC in March of last year.

“I am happy to announce that on behalf of the tens of thousands of Floridians whose livelihood depends on the viability of an open cruise industry, today Florida is fighting back,” Gov. Ron DeSantis declared during a press conference at the Port of Miami.

“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. I think we have a good chance for success,” the Republican governor said.

DeSantis charged that the shutdown of the industry has financially-ravaged the Sunshine State – the cruise capital of the country — resulting in the loss of billions of dollars in economic activity.

“The federal government and the CDC has locked down this industry for over a year,” DeSantis said, adding, “This is not reasonable. This is not rational … There’s just no end in sight.”

DeSantis continued, “People are going to cruise one way or another. The question is are we going to do it out of Florida, which is the number one place to do it in the world, or are they going to be doing it out of the Bahamas or other locations?”

In March 2020, the CDC shut down sailing when several COVID-19 outbreaks were linked to ships across the globe.  

Last week, the federal agency issued new guidance for the industry “requiring cruise lines to establish agreements at ports where they intend to operate, implement routine testing of crew, and develop plans incorporating vaccination strategies to reduce the risk of introduction and spread of COVID-19 by crew and passengers.”

The CDC said at the time that it is “committed to working with the cruise industry and seaport partners to resume cruising when it is safe to do so.”

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said at the press conference Thursday that the state is “losing tax revenue” and that “people’s lives are on the line.”

Sixty percent of the nation’s cruises come out of Florida and nearly $8 billion is “injected” into the state’s economy thanks to the industry, Moody noted.

“We are not going to sit back while an administrative agency decides to shut down an entire industry,” said Moody.

With Post wires

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