Cruise lines have been shut down for more than a year and while many industries have slowly reopened with restrictions, cruise ships remain empty. The CDC has pushed reopening dates back several times and right now, it remains unclear when ships will be allowed to sail again. With this in mind, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced a lawsuit today against the CDC demanding ships be allowed to sail immediately. CBS News reports:
The lawsuit, filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court in Tampa, names the CDC, Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. government as defendants. Prosecutors alleged that the cruise industry “has been singled out” as more Americans receive COVID-19 vaccines and begin to travel more. The lawsuit has asked to set aside and declare the no-sail order as unlawful immediately.
The Florida Governor’s office released a statement that reads:
Today, under the direction of Governor DeSantis, Florida is suing the Biden Administration in federal district court to overturn the unlawful “Conditional Sailing Order” enacted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This unprecedented year-long lockdown of an entire industry by the federal government has directly harmed the State of Florida, its citizens, and their families, resulting in the loss of billions of dollars in economic activity.
Note that it wasn’t the Biden administration, but rather the CDC under the Trump administration that issued the no sail order back on March 14, 2020.
There is one big problem though with DeSantis’ push to reopen this industry again, the Governor has issued a “ban” on vaccine passports. But most cruise lines have said in order to sail safely again they will make vaccines mandatory. The CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line, Fran Del Rio, says they want to open as soon as possible with certain precautions, that includes vaccinations for all passengers and crew members.
“If people aren’t vaccinated they are not getting on board a Norwegian holdings vessel.“
If DeSantis continues to insist that cruise lines can’t require vaccines, maritime attorney Michael Winkleman from Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman P.A. says it is possible to find a workaround:
“It’s a complicated issue but the easiest way for the cruise lines to get around CDC or DeSantis requirements is for them to move home ports to outside the US. The cruise lines are already threatening to do this and/or actually doing it in the case of Royal Caribbean.”
“The Cruise lines have a right to require passengers and crew to be fully vaccinated. Given what we learned in 2020 about how dangerous the combination of cruising and covid is, I don’t see how there can be safe cruising without a fully vaccinated ship. From a legal standpoint, I think the cruise lines expose themselves to liability if they were to sail without requiring crew and passengers to be vaccinated because of the obvious, significant risks.”
Cruise ships have resumes trips in several other countries.