A federal judge last Friday ruled in favor of Florida as US District Judge Steven Merryday granted a temporary injunction against CDC’s conditional sailing order. It means that after July 18, the CDC won’t be able to enforce its safety regulations on ships in Florida. It also means that the CDC’s conditional sailing order is merely a “guideline”.
In April, Florida filed a lawsuit against the CDC arguing that it had overstepped its authority by having the conditional sailing order. The conditional sailing order prevented large cruise ships from sailing for more than a year.
Governor Ron DeSantis calls the judge’s decision a “major victory”. He also said that “The CDC has been wrong all along, and they knew it”. The Governor added that “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”.
Merryday said that the health agency has until July 2 to come up with “a narrower injunction both permitting cruise ships to sail timely and remaining within CDC’s authority as interpreted in this order”.
The conditional sailing order states that departing ships will need to ensure that 95% of their crew and passengers are vaccinated. If not, cruise ships will need to conduct test voyages with volunteers to demonstrate safety protocols to reduce COVID19.
Complicating The Return of Cruises
The ruling will only be applied in Florida. However, it has the potential to complicate the return of cruise ships. According to CDC, Florida winning the case can even stop cruising in Alaska. Also, what’s next for the ships sailing in Florida?
Royal Caribbean announced that they have ships scheduled to sail from Florida and Texas in the coming weeks. Though Royal Caribbean didn’t require passengers to get vaccinated, the cruise line encouraged their passengers to get fully vaccinated. According to their statement, non-vaccinated passengers will have to pay for the additional COVID19 test.