A Florida federal judge ruled on Friday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could not enforce its Covid-19 rules for cruise ships in the state after July 18.
Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who sued the CDC over cruise ship rules in April, called U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday’s ruling a “major victory.”
“The CDC was wrong from the start, and they knew it,” DeSantis said in a statement, saying the agency was trying to “sink” the Florida cruise industry, according to the Washington Post. .
“Today, we are securing this victory for Florida families, for the cruise industry, and for every state that wishes to uphold its rights in the face of unprecedented federal reach.”
Merriday’s ruling means that CDC’s “conditional sailing order” will only be a “” consideration, ”“ recommendation ”or“ non-binding ”guideline” for Florida cruises departing July 18. .
Under the conditional departure order, the CDC said companies could leave without delay if 95% of those on board – passengers and crew – were vaccinated. If the 95% threshold was not met, the CDC said, operators would need to bring volunteers on “test” trips to demonstrate they can reduce the risk of Covid-19.
The CDC can appeal Merryday’s decision, but it ruled that both parties should review mediation to find a solution. Merryday said the CDC could find a change that would allow that agency to retain a public health authority.
The CDC first barred cruise ships from sailing in March last year due to the pandemic, which had sickened the ships’ crew and passengers. On October 30, CDC officials presented a four-phase framework that they said would allow operators to slowly resume cruises if they hit certain thresholds.
The Associated Press contributed to this report