The future of Florida’s cruise ship industry remains in question after a panel of three judges for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay on a preliminary injunction blocking the CDC’s authority allowing cruise ships to set sail.
U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday in Tampa issued the now-lifted injunction in June after siding with the state that the CDC’s guidelines overstepped its legal authority to control an entire industry.
The CDC’s “framework” for getting cruise ships back on the water is known as the “conditional sailing order” that requires cruise ships to complete four rigorous phases of certification before returning to operation. Criticism of the conditional sailing order came from multiple cruise lines who marked completion of the four phases by the upcoming season as “impractical.”
“[The] CDC cites no historical precedent in which the federal government detained a fleet of vessels for more than a year and imposed comprehensive and impossibly detailed ‘technical guidelines’ before again permitting a vessel to sail. That is, CDC cites no historical precedent for, in effect, closing an entire industry,” he said.
However, the ruling by the 11th Circuit Court was backed with minimal explanation but cites the CDC having “requisite showing” of irreparable injury based off the analysis of equities and public interest that was permissible through the ruling in Nken v. Holder, 556 U.S. 418, 434 (2009).
While it was not expanded upon by the 11th Court panel, that same case was referenced in Merryday’s order which said, “Because Florida requests an injunction against an agency of the federal government, the analysis of the balance of equities and the analysis of the public interest merge. Nken v. Holder, 556 U.S. 418, 435 (2009).”
Merryday then mentions the CDC’s argument regarding Nken v. Holder which states, “Arguing that the prospective injury to the public’s health exceeds the ongoing financial injury to Florida and the economic injury to Florida’s economy, CDC claims that absent the requirements imposed by the conditional sailing order, cruises ‘would likely exacerbate and amplify the spread’ of COVID-19.'”
With that being said, the CDC has also allowed companies to require Covid-19 vaccinations in order to board the ship while also giving “additional discretionary considerations for ships with at least 98% of crew and 95% of passengers fully vaccinated.”
Governor DeSantis was quick to respond to the decision.
“We are absolutely going to pursue getting the stay removed, either at the full 11th Circuit or at the U.S. Supreme Court. I think probably to the full 11th Circuit en banc,” DeSantis said during an appearance in Central Florida.
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Casey Owens is a contributing writer for The Florida Capital Star. Follow him on Twitter at @cowensreports. Email tips to [email protected]