Thu, 16 Sep 2021

Court ruling ends CDC restrictions on Florida cruise ships

Robert Besser
27 Jul 2021, 04:37 GMT+10

WASHINGTON, D.C.: A federal appeals court on Friday reversed an earlier ruling and will let stand a ruling that prevents the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from enforcing its coronavirus regulations aboard cruise ship sailing from Florida.

Florida's lawsuit stated that the CDC's multiple-step process to allow cruising from Florida is overly burdensome, harming both a multibillion-dollar industry that provides some 159,000 jobs and revenue collected by the state.

The decision supports Florida, which had filed a lawsuit claiming the CDC curbs made it difficult for the cruise industry to recover from the pandemic.

The Friday ruling noted that the court was rejecting the government's request because it had "failed to demonstrate an entitlement to a stay pending appeal."

However, all cruise ships in Florida will be required to report "individual cases of illness or death and ship inspections and sanitary measures to prevent the introduction, transmission, or spread of communicable diseases," the CDC said late on Friday.

Those cruise lines that ensure at least 95 percent of passengers and nearly all crew are vaccinated can more quickly begin scheduled cruises. Also, they would be allowed to avoid having vaccinated passengers wear masks in inside common spaces.

Masks are not required in outdoor areas on cruise ships.

The appeals court ruling came soon after the state of Florida had filed an emergency petition, warning that unless the courts reversed the CDC requirements for cruises, the state was "all but guaranteed to lose yet another summer cruise season while the CDC pursues its appeal," the state said in its filing.

In court filings, Florida has stated that the CDC exceeded its authority in adopting rules governing the resumption of cruise ship sailing.

Cruise operations were suspended in March 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, Cruise Lines International Association, a trade group, recently stated that cruise ships will continue to operate in accordance with CDC requirements.

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