Lawyers representing the U.S. government say that Florida does not have a legal right to force the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention to reopen the cruise line business at the nation’s seaports. In a hearing before U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday in Tampa last week, lawyers representing Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody outlined their case, which claims that a federal agency program for cruise lines to resume sailing is “unlawful,” taking too long and creating widespread economic harm.
Governor Ron DeSantis announced the lawsuit against the Biden Administration in early April, saying, “To be clear, no federal law authorizes the CDC to indefinitely impose a nationwide shutdown of an entire industry. This lawsuit is necessary to protect Floridians from the federal government’s overreach and resulting economic harm to our state.”
In court, Florida alleged that although Congress granted the CDC the authority to remove health hazards in public places, there is nothing in the law that allows the agency to arbitrarily shut down the cruise lines. Further, Florida stressed that public health conditions have changed since the CDC restart plan was imposed last October, with large segments of the general population becoming fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Cruising has safely resumed in Asia and Europe, and the resumptions thus far have been a “resounding success,” Florida explained.
But federal government lawyers responded that Florida has no standing to sue and that the CDC, not the state, has the power to regulate cruise ships sailing from American ports.
The judge did not issue a ruling after the daylong hearing.
ICYMI: Watch FPC Interim President & CEO Mike Rubin discussing COVID-19’s impact on Florida’s cruise industry with FOX 13, Tampa Bay. Florida’s legal challenge to CDC cruise restrictions goes before judge Wednesday.