On Friday, a federal judge ruled in favour of the state of Florida’s lawsuit against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stating that the agency likely exceeded its authority by issuing a Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) that prevent cruise lines from departing from Florida ports.
The CSO had made it mandatory for cruise lines to operate test cruises and implementing vaccine requirements for passengers and a preliminary injunction against the restrictions and guidelines of the CSO was issued by Judge Steven Merryday.
Merryday wrote in concluding the 124-page ruling, “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.”
Under this ruling, cruise lines can restart operations in and out of ports in Florida – the most lucrative in the world – as early as next month. However, industry observers warned that the ruling is just a temporary injunction.
“Don’t cancel anything! I wouldn’t suggest anyone reacting or overreacting to the latest news. #Cruise lines will continue forward with current plans for now. It’s premature to read more into this ruling which has been temporarily stayed by the judge. Chill”
— Stewart Chiron (@CruiseGuy) June 18, 2021
Judge Merryday has given the CDC until July 2 to propose revised guidelines “both permitting cruise ships to sail timely (while) remaining within CDC’s authority.”
Florida had filed the suit against the CDC in April.
In a statement, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said, “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.”
Judge Merryday wrote that the state of Florida recognized a strong likelihood that most, or almost all, cruise ships will be unable to sail for the entire summer season.
“And each day the cruise industry faces uncertainty about when cruises can resume, Florida not only suffers a concrete economic injury resulting from reduced revenue and increased unemployment spending, but Florida faces an increasingly threatening and imminent prospect that the cruise industry will depart the state,” the ruling said.