The state of Florida on Thursday sued the federal government over its prolonged shutdown of cruises, arguing trips are being run safely in other parts of the world and that the U.S. industry is on the brink of financial ruin.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is continuing to prevent cruises from launching from U.S. ports despite not having the authority to do so, the state said in the 156-page suit filed in federal court obtained by The Epoch Times.
Even if the agency did have the authority, its actions have been “arbitrary and capricious” and violate federal law, plaintiffs say.
They’re asking a judge to bar the CDC from preventing cruises from launching from Florida and other U.S. ports. If not, then Florida will lose hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions, and the approximately 159,000 state residents who work in the industry “could lose everything,” according to the suit, which names the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services and their directors.
The two agencies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The CDC ordered cruises to stop departing and returning to U.S. ports in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That no-sail order remains in place despite a drop in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, and a steadily rising number of people being vaccinated against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
“This is not reasonable. This is not rational,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, told a press conference on Thursday. “And this is something that we don’t believe can continue any longer.”
“We are not going to sit back while its administrative agency decides to shut down an entire industry,” added the state’s attorney general, Ashley Moody.
The CDC last week issued fresh guidance that informs cruise lines of what changes they will have to make before cruises resume from America’s ports. The guidance came on the same day the CDC said in updated guidance that fully vaccinated people could fly outside the country.
“We’re disappointed that this guidance for the cruise industry appears to be nothing more than an incremental step in a far-reaching process to resume passenger sailings in the U.S. with no definitive or target start date,” Port Canaveral CEO John Murray said in a statement.
The Cruise Lines International Association said the instructions were disappointing and urged the administration to consider “the ample evidence that supports lifting” the shutdown.
If it does not end soon, more sailings will originate from the Caribbean and elsewhere, “effectively shutting American ports, closing thousands of American small businesses, and pushing an entire industry off- shore,” it said in a statement.
Monica Sebata, a former employee of Cruiseport Destinations, told the briefing that her company, which serves the cruise industry through services like pre- and post-cruise hotel options for customers, has suffered financially and mentally.
Major cruise lines have been under strain because of the shutdown.
Carnival Cruise Line, the world’s largest cruise company, suggested on Wednesday it might withdraw its ships from the United States.
“I don’t want to move Carnival cruise ships out of the U.S., but at some point, we also have to make sure we can sustain our business,” Carnival President Christine Duffy told WESH-TV.