After filing a lawsuit on April 8, receiving no answers or replies from the CDC for many months, and hundreds of thousands of people out of work in Florida, the state is tired of waiting around.
Florida has now asked a federal judge to overturn the Centers for Disease Control Conditional Sailing Order. This is the order that is keeping the cruise ship industry from sailing again in the United States.
No Results Yet on the Previous Lawsuit
However, both the governor and the Attorney General feel this is taking too much time and now seek immediate court action through a preliminary injunction. Effectively asking the judge to block the CDC from carrying out its order.
The injunction states that lockdown was not done by state authorities, Congress, or the president, but by imposed by the CDC. With that, the state claims there should have been a far more limited timetable.
Since the CDC brought out the order, the agency has not provided the cruise industry with any guidelines for proceeding outside of the initial framework. That framework outlined building up testing infrastructure and running simulated test sailings before any of the ships would be allowed to sail with guests once again.
In the injunction, which is now with the courts and can be read here, the state says the following:
“The CSO was pursuant to a limited delegation from Congress to inspect and disinfect property and animals. Congress did not, in granting those limited powers, authorize the CDC to shut down a multibillion-dollar industry for over a year.”
The state further argues that experts, cruise operators, and government officials had limited understanding of the virus at the start of the pandemic. However, it feels that there is a significant improvement here. Cruise ships and cruise operators, and government agencies now have the necessary know-how to deal with any cases of COVID onboard.
What About the Cruise Lines?
So far, the cruise lines have not joined the lawsuits or legislative actions that several senators and governors have taken in recent weeks. The Conditional Sail Order remains in effect until November 1, 2021, and is still missing further guidance for cruise lines to fulfill its parameters. Therefore, it would seem that the cruise lines will have plenty of reasons to support and applaud the actions of representatives.
In fact, many of the cruise lines have stated that they remain in constant discussion with the CDC while quietly backing the actions by Florida and Alaska.
The reasoning is simply that the CDC and the cruise lines have a long relationship that goes back much further than just COVID-19. The cruise lines will want to ensure this relationship is not disturbed.
Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain said this week he remains optimistic about working with the CDC and thinks the industry will be up and running soon.
Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain:
“Based on the advances in science and the data provided by our experiences abroad, the CDC is engaging in a constructive dialogue with us and the industry to enable a return to service in a safe and healthy manner,”
He further stated that the cruise industry and the CDC have been in constant dialogue, while they have also shared and discussed information and data that has emerged from the sailings in Europe and Asia.
These sailings saw more than 400,000 cruise passengers sail and resulted in more than 30 countries have now allowed cruises to resume in some way.
Both the CDC and the cruise lines are optimistic cruises could resume mid-July.
Richard D. Fain:
“We agree with that assessment, and we’re more optimistic than ever that a realistic path forward can be achieved in that time frame. That would enable a summer season in Alaska and elsewhere.”
Many would see the CDC’s public silence as a determining factor and why cruises are not on the program soon, yet it seems the cruise lines continue to work in good faith with the CDC.
It could mean there are still two options open for cruises to resume soon. The lawsuit, and injunction, sought by the states of Florida and Alaska, and the possibility that the CDC will come through on its promises.