Florida is suing the Biden Administration in an effort to reopen the cruise industry.
The lawsuit, which was filed Thursday morning, also named the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the suit at a news conference in Miami, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.
The tens of thousands of Florida workers who depend on the industry have been unfairly harmed by the cruise ban, which has been in effect since March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, DeSantis, a Republican, said.
"Today Florida is fighting back," he said. "I don’t think the federal government has the right to mothball an industry for more than a year based on very little evidence and very little data,"
According to Florida Attorney General Ashley Mood, the suit challenges the government’s authority.
She said the administration has not been willing to discuss how vaccinations and health protocols introduced by the cruise lines have made the CDC’s ban on cruising outdated.
The Miami Herald noted that cruises in the U.S. were banned after COVID-19 outbreaks and deaths on multiple ships. The newspaper said the cruise companies are currently working to comply with the second phase of the CDC’s "conditional sail order" — a framework to get the industry restarted which was first published in October.
Meanwhile, legal experts told the Herald the lawsuit has little chance of proceeding. The federal government has very broad control to regulate ports of entry, they said.
"I think it’s got negligible liability approaching zero," said Larry Gostin, professor of global health law at Georgetown University and director of the World Health Organization’s center on global health law. "Under no circumstance could I see a judge striking down a regulation that applies to cruise ships and the safety of its passengers because its passengers are going to be introducing infectious diseases back into the U.S. if they get infected on the ship. The U.S. has a very strong interest and power to stop that."
Late last month, DeSantis called for the federal government to clear the way for cruise ships to start sailing again by the summer.
Industry officials claim inaction by the federal government is keeping thousands of workers unemployed and hurting Florida’s economy. "We’re the most crippled by what they are doing with this national cruise lockdown," said DeSantis. "If we get liberated from that, you are going to be able see maybe tens of thousands — maybe even a hundred thousand more people — going back to work."
Cruise lines are already restarting cruises in Israel, Europe, and Singapore.
Florida is planning to fund about $260 million to aid ports in the state that have suffered losses during the pandemic. However, DeSantis said that won’t be enough if ships can’t sail.
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