Florida Files Lawsuit Taking Aim at the CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order

Today, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, under the direction of Governor DeSantis, filed legal action against the Biden administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over the outdated federal shutdown order of the nation’s cruise industry. As COVID-19 vaccine distribution continues to increase at a rapid pace under Governor Ron DeSantis’s leadership, airlines, hotels, restaurants, theme parks and other tourism industries are now open with reasonable safety measures. Yet, the cruise industry remains under a strict federal shutdown order—harming the national economy and Florida’s travel industry along with its workers.

Earlier on Thursday, DeSantis held the following press conference at PortMiami.

There were two press releases issued one by the governor and the other by Moody which included the complaint filing.

“We must allow our cruise liners and their employees to get back to work and safely set sail again,” said Governor DeSantis. “To be clear, no federal law authorizes the CDC to indefinitely impose a nationwide shutdown of an entire industry. This lawsuit is necessary to protect Floridians from the federal government’s overreach and resulting economic harm to our state.”

“Cruises are a vital part of Florida’s tourism industry—employing thousands and boosting our state’s economy. Every day the federal government unfairly keeps this economic giant docked, our economy suffers. The ripple effect of this misguided federal lockdown has far-reaching implications for the cruise industry, international tourism, businesses that would benefit from the influx of visitors, our state’s economy and the thousands of Floridians who work in the industry,”  said Attorney General Ashley Moody. “But what is even worse than the economic damage caused by this heavy-handed federal overreach is the precedent being set by an eager-to-regulate Biden administration that is unfairly singling out and keeping docked our cruise industry on the basis of outdated data. Our litigation seeks to end this federal overreach and allow Floridians to safely get back to work and travel.”

“The unwillingness of the CDC to adapt its guidelines to the ever-changing nature of the country’s pandemic response unrelentlessly destroys an industry that generates hundreds of thousands of jobs and several billions of dollars to our economy. These federal bureaucrats, who have no concept of what is actually happening out in the real world, have never had to face the reality of a prolonged furlough or have had their job jeopardized by the pandemic,” said Congressman Carlos Gimenez. “ I guarantee if it were their job on the line and they had to handle the things hardworking Americans have had to face ahead of this pandemic, they would find the solution and rectify this issue immediately. It is time to hold the CDC and this Administration accountable for the damages they are committing against these hardworking Americans and for what they are doing to our local economies. I applaud Attorney General Ashley Moody for filing this lawsuit and Governor Ron DeSantis for backing these efforts.”

“Unlike Florida, some have forgotten the most important element of a successful transportation system: the people and their families,” said Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin J. Thibault, P.E. “The CDC’s No Sail Order remains an arbitrary policy that clearly discriminates against one transportation method, and I applaud Governor DeSantis for continuing to advocate for the cruise industry and the thousands of Florida families who are struggling to make ends meet.”

The CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order harms the State and its citizens in at least 4 ways:

  • Preventing numerous businesses and employees from earning a living;
  • Contributing to our State’s unemployment;
  • Exacerbating the massive shortfalls in revenues experienced by our State’s seaports; and
  • Reducing state and local taxes associated with the cruise industry.

The press release from DeSantis concluded with the following:

In March of 2020, following the CDC’s “No Sail Order,” Florida’s cruise industry came to a screeching halt. To this day—over 1 year later—the Biden Administration continues to prohibit Florida’s cruise ships from operating under its Conditional Sailing Order. This prohibition continues notwithstanding the fact that COVID-19 vaccines are widely available, that other countries have safely and successfully resumed cruise sailings, and that other industries like airlines, bus lines, hotels, restaurants, universities, theme parks, casinos, and bars have successfully reopened.

The economic devastation wrought by the CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order cannot be overstated. A September 2020 report from the Federal Maritime Commission estimated that during the first 6 months of the pandemic, losses in Florida due to the cruise industry shutdown totaled $3.2 billion in economic activity, including 49,500 jobs paying $2.3 billion in wages. To date, over 6,000 former cruise industry employees have filed for State unemployment. Since the CDC’s shutdown went into effect, Florida’s seaports have suffered a decline in operating revenue of almost $300 million, and this figure is projection to increase to nearly $400 million in July of 2021. And projections show that Florida’s cruise industry could have produced over $150 million in state and local tax revenues in the 2020-2021 fiscal cruise year.

SOURCES Press Releases:

6 Replies to “Florida Files Lawsuit Taking Aim at the CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order”

  1. Chris

    I tend to agree that it’s probably time to start some short cruises with vaccinated passengers to get the industry’s wheels moving again and get people back to work, but I fail to see how the state has any standing to sue the CDC here. The cruise lines might have an argument, but a case that will be immediately dismissed is little more than a publicity stunt for the governor.

    1. Scott Sanders Post author

      I believe the angle is that the cruise industry is a big tourism sector for the state of Florida. Due to the shutdown, there are thousands of Floridians unable to return to work, jobs that support the cruise industry from porters, line handlers, provisioners, shuttle drivers, offsite parking, local businesses, restaurants, hotels, and many more that depend, to some level, on the cruise industry. Boiled down, this is more about getting Florida residents back to work by way of restarting an industry that is not allowed to operate in the United States.

  2. L

    totally agree chris that this is nothing more than grandstanding and jockeying for 2024 by desantis. nothing more. a lawsuit like this is laughable.

  3. Jo

    Get’s people’s attention. Royal Caribbean is sending out links to notify your senator or representative. Do not believe that is merely coincidence. DeSantis cares about the people of his state. Not saying you have to agree with him politically, but at least you have to give him credit for trying. Would you rather he sit back and do nothing. Glad you have something to laugh about during these difficult days—hopefully Gov. DeSantis will have the last laugh.


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