CDC Appeals Florida Court Decision on Conditional Sailing Order

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It has taken a few weeks since Judge Steven D. Merryday sided with the state of Florida in the court case against the Conditional Sail Order, but the CDC has now taken the step to appeal against the judge’s decision.

According to the judge, the CDC was overstepping its jurisdiction, which prompted him to call the Conditional Sail Order a recommendation instead of an order. U.S. Department of Justice attorneys filed a notice of taking the case to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Orders Exceed the Authority Delegated to CDC”

Did the Conditional Sail Order treat the cruise industry unfairly? Governor DeSantis and the state of Florida certainly seemed to think so. The state argued in the case that Florida ran the risk of losing millions of dollars of income over the summer and even potentially a majority of the cruise industry.

As we know, cruise lines like Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line were actively restarting operations outside the United States to be able to sail.

According to Judge Steven D. Merryday, the order exceeded the CDC’s authority in the United States. In the summary of his ruling, the judge said this:

“This order finds that Florida is highly likely to prevail on the merits of the claim that CDC’s conditional sailing order and the implementing orders exceed the authority delegated to CDC under Section 264(a).”

The preliminary injunction, which will go into effect on July 18, that accompanied the ruling turned the CSO from an order to a recommendation, bringing the cruise industry in line with airlines, hotels, casinos, and sports venues. However, the CDC disagrees with the ruling and has now appealed the decision.

Cruise Ships at PortMiami, Florida
Photo Credit: richard pross /

Appeal and Motion for a stay of the preliminary injunction

The CDC will be taking the decision from the lower court to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and has also asked for a stay of the injunction of the CSO. The CDC argues that the injunction will be putting lives at risk and increase the risk of spreading COVID-19, as Fox 13 News reports:

“The conditional sailing order is an important tool in ensuring that cruise ship operations do not exacerbate the spread of dangerous (COVID-19) variants during this inflection point in the pandemic.”

The CDC further argues that unregulated cruise ships would be a perfect situation for spreading the disease to accelerate. Instead, the CDC believes that the CSO does not shut down the cruise industry but rather provides a science-based platform on which cruise ship travel can resume safely. The motion for a stay of the injunction said this about the Conditional Sail Order:

“It does not shut down the cruise industry but instead provides a sensible, flexible framework for reopening, based on the best available scientific evidence. Here, 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 undone.”

CDC Flag

While the injunction will take effect on July 18, a stay would put this off while the case is pending with the Atlanta-based court of appeals and a decision is made. While the fight is taking place in the courts, multiple cruise ships are sailing under the CSO already.

The motion further touches on the proof of the vaccination ban that was recently introduced in Florida. While the decision from Judge Merryday was partly based on widely available vaccinations, the new law in Florida undermines this according to the CDC:

“This court’s suggestion that the availability of vaccinations alone suffices to mitigate this risk is both undermined by Florida law prohibiting cruise ship operators from requiring passengers to verify their vaccination status and contrary to the CDC’s findings.”

Will the Cruise Lines Ignore the CSO?

None of the cruise lines joined the lawsuit, and even if the decision does go with Florida, it remains to be seen that the cruise industry would be deviating from the regulations laid out by the CDC.

This was made clear when Carnival Cruise Line made vaccinations onboard cruises from Florida mandatory. When the decision will be made by the court of appeals is unclear at this time; when it does come, we will keep you up to date on Cruise Hive.

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