CDC relaunches cruise battle with Florida after judge rules agency restrictions excessive

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The legal battle between the CDC and Florida over the cruise industry continued on Tuesday as the agency filed an appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, nearly three weeks long. after a trial judge ruled that the federal government’s restrictions on the industry were excessive. .

“Despite an improving public health outlook in many parts of the country, the United States remains in the midst of a single pandemic that has killed more than six hundred thousand Americans and nearly four million people worldwide,” said said attorneys for the federal government wrote on Tuesday in a motion to stay the lower court’s decision.

“The Conditional Sailing Order (‘CSO’) is an important tool to ensure that cruise ship operations do not exacerbate the spread of dangerous variants during this pandemic inflection point.”

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The CDC initially grounded all cruises in March 2020 and then released a framework for the industry to return last October through the CSO, which is a strict four-step approach to resuming cruises.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis sued the CDC for overthrowing this CSO in April, arguing that “no federal law allows the CDC to force an entire industry to shut down indefinitely.”

U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday agreed with DeSantis in a 124-page decision last month, granting a preliminary injunction that prevents the CDC from enforcing the CSO from July 18.

“In a nutshell, never has the CDC implemented measures as extensive, crippling and exclusive as those examined in this action,” Merryday wrote on June 18. “The balance between harm and the public interest favors Florida.”

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If the suspension that was filed on Tuesday is granted, then the matter would be left to the Eleventh Circuit.

The first cruise to leave a U.S. port since the start of the pandemic departed from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on June 26. Other cruises are expected to depart from Florida, Texas, Washington and Alaska in the coming months.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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