Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is suing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for failing to lift cruise ship restrictions.
The Republican governor announced the lawsuit on Thursday. The suit states that while many industries are recovering from the COVID-19 lockdowns and Americans are beginning to travel again freely and safely, the cruise industry “is on the brink of financial ruin.”
“The cruise industry has been singled out, and unlike the rest of America, prevented from reopening,” the suit stated.
The CDC initially issued a no-sail order on March 14, 2020, following a surge in COVID-19 cases on cruise ships. The restrictions remain in effect until at least November 2021.
DeSantis claims that the CDC does not have the authority to halt the cruise industry. He claims that the no-sail order violates the Administrative Procedure Act for being “arbitrary and capricious” and failing to go through the formal notice and comment period.
While the CDC lifted certain aspects of the no-sail order in October 2020, the complaint says that the practice remains effective through a conditional sailing order that is effective until November 1, 2021. Under this order, ships may only sail if cruise lines complete a four-phase process. The process includes establishing lab testing of the ship’s crew, simulated test cruises to determine if they can adequately moderate infections, a certification process, and lastly, “a return to passenger voyages in a manner that mitigates the risk of COVID-19.”
The lawsuit states that no cruise line has even started the second phase.
In addition to the CDC, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, Department of Health and Human Services, and HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra are all named defendants.