DeSantis critical of CDC’s ‘baseless non-sail order’ for cruise ships; state threatens legal action

Federal regulators’ COVID-related no-sail order effective through November 1 for the cruise industry is a no-sale for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. The dispute could wind up in court if the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention insists on keeping the ships in port, Florida’s attorney general predicted.

DeSantis, a national leader in efforts to reopen the U.S. economy, participated in a roundtable discussion with industry executives and other stakeholders ahead of the summer vacation season.

“The cruise industry is essential to our state’s economy and keeping it shut down until November would be devastating to the men and women who rely on the cruise lines to provide for themselves and their families. I urge the CDC to immediately rescind this baseless no-sail order to allow Floridians in this industry to get back to work,” The Hill reported.

Onboard safety protocols plus the increasing availability of vaccines provide a way forward, DeSantis implied.

State Attorney General Ashley Moody joined fellow Republican DeSantis on the panel and expressed a willingness to legally challenge what she described as a cruise-line lockdown compounded by the lack of updated technical guidance from the CDC that would enable a restart.

“Sometimes, that means we have to push back against our own government,” Moody said. “We’ve got to start examining some very serious options…You cannot have an agency shutting down an entire industry, based on outdated, arbitrary, capricious decisions.”

“And so we will take all legal action, as necessary, Gov. DeSantis, working with your office, basing that on the information given to us, not only by the cruise line industry, but those that have been impacted in Florida,” she said, according to Florida Today.

Florida “will follow through” if the CDC fails to take swift action, she added.

The shutdown of the industry has had a massive ripple effect throughout the economy that adversely affected employment in ancillary services, including small business.

“Those jobs are spread throughout the tourism industry, including at hotels, restaurants, attractions, airlines, ground-transportation companies and suppliers of provisions to the ships,” Florida Today noted.

Apart from the above, Port Canaveral (the purported world’s second-busiest cruise port — pre COVID — in terms of passengers. Miami being the first) where the panel discussion took place, reportedly lost nearly $90 million in revenue from March 2020 through February 2021 in the absence of cruise traffic, along with a 43 percent reduction in its workforce.

Its Terminal 3 complex completed in May 2020 at a reported cost of $155 million is dormant because of the no-sail order.

Earlier, a CDC spokesperson using bureaucratic lingo said that “Returning to passenger cruising is a phased approach to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19. Details for the next phase of the (conditional sailing order) are currently under interagency review.”

In the meantime, some cruise ships are sailing out of the Bahamas and Bermuda, mostly with U.S. vacationers as passengers.

“March 14 marked one year since all cruise lines were forced to dock following the outbreak of the coronavirus, a move that has reportedly cost Florida $3.2 billion in the first six months of the pandemic, along with 49,500 jobs and $2.3 billion in wages,” Fox Business reported.

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Robert Jonathan

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