Pandemic restrictions on Florida-based cruise ships no longer in place after court ruling – .

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Pandemic restrictions on Florida-based cruise ships no longer in place after court ruling – .


MIAMI – Pandemic restrictions on Florida-based cruise ships are no longer in effect under a federal appeals court ruling on Friday, as the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention seeks to fight against a lawsuit in Florida challenging the regulations.

A three-judge panel from the 11th U.S. Court of Appeals had temporarily blocked a previous ruling last Saturday that sided with Florida officials, but the court overturned that ruling on Friday, explaining that the CDC did not had failed to demonstrate his right to a stay pending appeal. .

The temporary stay last weekend had kept the CDC’s regulations for Florida-based cruise ships in place, while the CDC appealed the June ruling of U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday. These regulations can no longer be applied but can still be used as guidelines.

The lawsuit, defended by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, claims the CDC’s multi-step process to authorize cruises from Florida is too cumbersome, hurting both a multibillion-dollar industry that provides some 159,000 jobs and revenue collected by the State.

In court records, Florida lawyers had urged the 11th Circuit to dismiss the CDC’s request to keep its rules intact.

“The actions overwhelmingly favor allowing the cruise industry to enjoy its first summer season in two years while this court adjudicates the CDC’s claims on appeal,” the Florida lawyers argued.

The CDC, however, said keeping the rules in place would prevent future outbreaks of COVID-19 on ships vulnerable to the spread of the virus due to their proximity and frequent stops at foreign ports.

“The undisputed evidence shows that unregulated cruise ship operations would exacerbate the spread of COVID-19 and that the harm to the public that would result from such operations cannot be reversed,” the CDC said in a court filing.

The CDC first halted cruise ship navigation in March 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which had affected passengers and crew on many ships.

Then, on October 30 of last year, the CDC imposed a four-phase conditional framework that it said would allow the industry to gradually resume operations if certain thresholds were met. These included virus mitigation procedures and a simulated cruise to test them before boarding regular passengers.

Merryday’s ruling concluded that the CDC cannot enforce these rules for Florida-based ships and that they should simply be viewed as non-binding recommendations or guidelines. Several cruise lines have started preliminary cruises under these guidelines, which the Tampa judge agreed with Florida are too onerous.

“Florida convincingly states that the conditional navigation order will close most cruises during the summer and possibly much longer,” the judge wrote in June, adding that Florida “faces the prospect of increasingly threatening and imminent that the cruise industry leaves the state. “

Disney Cruise Lines held its first simulated cruise under CDC rules last Saturday when the Disney Dream departed from Port Canaveral, Florida. The passengers were volunteer employees of Disney.

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