Judge sides with Florida’s opposition to CDC rules on cruise lines

MIAMI – Gov. Ron DeSantis is celebrating a victory in his ongoing fight against federal COVID rules on cruise ships departing from Florida.

U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday sided with DeSantis on Friday over his opposition to COVID-related public health restrictions on cruise lines.

Merryday issued a preliminary injunction to temporarily prevent the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from enforcing the conditional sailing order issued on Oct. 30.

“The CDC has been wrong all along, and they knew it,” DeSantis said in a statement.

Merryday ordered mediation and wrote DeSantis is “highly likely to prevail” in pending litigation since the CDC exceeded its authority.

The CDC issued a no sail order on March 14, 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. DeSantis claimed President Joe Biden’s administration “concocted a plan to sink the cruise industry” with delays and lawsuits.

“Today, we are securing this victory for Florida families, for the cruise industry, and for every state that wants to preserve its rights in the face of unprecedented federal overreach,” DeSantis said.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody released a statement saying Merryday’s ruling was “a victory for the hardworking Floridians whose livelihoods depend on the cruise industry.”

Merryday’s order takes effect on July 18th when it will turn the CDC’s conditional sailing order into a recommendation or guideline. The CDC will be able to contest the order in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit and present the new terms of the conditional sailing order to the court by July 2.

“The cruise lines and the CDC are working hand in hand to try to resume cruises safely,” said Michael Winkelman, a maritime attorney. “Frankly, I think everything that the governor has done has only made it more difficult for them, which is the irony.”

Royal Caribbean announced the cruise line is planning to allow passengers who are not vaccinated to embark in Florida, but their access to venues and events will be restricted and they will have to pay for COVID testing. The cruise line has yet to receive a conditional sailing certificate from the CDC.

Judge’s ruling

About the Authors:

Janine Stanwood joined Local 10 News in February 2004 as an assignment editor. She is now a general assignment reporter. Before moving to South Florida from her Washington home, Janine was the senior legislative correspondent for a United States senator on Capitol Hill.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.