Florida sues federal government over cruise industry shutdown

Tori B. Powell
·2 min read
Florida sues federal government over cruise industry shutdown

Florida is suing the federal government to demand the reopening of the cruise line industry, Governor Ron DeSantis announced Thursday. The suit follows weeks of legal threats against the CDC's no-sail order implemented last March in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

"It is time for us to vindicate the rights of the state in court and to vindicate the rights of tens of thousands of Floridians," DeSantis said in a news conference at the Port of Miami.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court in Tampa, names the CDC, Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. government as defendants. Prosecutors alleged that the cruise industry "has been singled out" as more Americans receive COVID-19 vaccines and begin to travel more. The lawsuit has asked to set aside and declare the no-sail order as unlawful immediately.

"The country is returning to normal," the lawsuit states. "Florida is leading the way and has remained more open than many other large states. Industries have adapted to COVID-19 in Florida and are adapting elsewhere."

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on April 8, 2021. / Credit: Wilfredo Lee / AP
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on April 8, 2021. / Credit: Wilfredo Lee / AP

Florida has one of the busiest ports in the world, typically bringing in billions of dollars to the state's economy at Port Miami, Port Everglades, and Port Canaveral, according to CBS Miami. Cruise industry executives claim the CDC's order has cost the state over $3.2 billion in revenue during the first six months of the pandemic.

"The industry doesn't need a bureaucratic overseer to ensure the safety of its customers," DeSantis said.

Florida's attorney general, Ashley Moody, argued that the no-sail order puts freedom at risk and claimed that cruise revenue will go to other countries should the courts not reopen the industry.

"The Biden Administration has had numerous opportunities to engage and put America's businesses first; Florida's businesses first," Moody said. "Instead, he has allowed the playing field to be tilted to the benefit of foreign countries and Florida will not allow that to happen."

Should his litigation succeed, DeSantis also said that he will not require "vaccination passports" in the state of Florida in order to travel. "It causes a huge amount of problems," he said.

Last week, the CDC released new steps for cruise operators to follow but it has not modified its no-sail order, which expires on October 31. After that, the order says the agency will "take a phased approach" at reopening cruise line operations.

"Help is on the way," DeSantis said Thursday. "We're going to keep at this until we finally get it open."

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