Florida threatened to sue the federal government over the idling of the cruise industry

  • Florida’s governor said the state could sue the federal government if the CDC doesn’t soon allow the US cruise industry to restart.
  • The US cruise industry has remained idled even as coronavirus vaccinations and testing pick up steam.
  • US cruises are not expected to sail until May at the earliest.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and state Attorney General Ashley Moody said they would consider filing a lawsuit against the federal government over its ongoing restriction on the cruise industry. 

During a roundtable discussion with cruise industry executives on Friday, Moody said the state was weighing its legal options against the Biden Administration and the US Centers for Disease Control for keeping the cruise industry idled amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

In October, the CDC announced a new framework for sailing that requires cruises to have onboard testing and carry out mock voyages and many other requirements before they are allowed to restart in US ports. The industry was shut down a year ago after several coronavirus outbreaks erupted on cruise ships. 

“You can’t have an agency shutting down an entire industry based on outdated arbitrary capricious decisions and so we will take all legal action as necessary,” Moody said. 

The roundtable discussion included CEOs from Norwegian, Carnival, MSC Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Disney Cruise Line, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

DeSantis, a Republican who reopened all businesses and eliminated fines for people refusing to wear masks as COVID-19 ripped through the state last year, said the cruise industry had been idled for too long. 

“If you’re not going to be willing to greenlight this, then you need to explain why everywhere else in the world can do it,” DeSantis said during the discussion. “Is it okay for the government to just idle an industry for a year, with no end in sight? I mean, this was never legislated by anybody.”

The US cruise industry has remained idled even as vaccinations and testing pick up steam. Cruise lines in other countries have resumed trips and industry advocates say cruising doesn’t pose a greater risk of transmitting the coronavirus than flying. 

A statement by the Florida governor’s office on Friday said the US government failed to provide relief funding to seaports “while airports and transit agencies have received assistance through relief packages.” 

US cruises are not expected to sail until May at the earliest. Royal Caribbean Cruises President and CEO Michael Bayley called the situation”devastating,” according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Florida is home to some of the world’s busiest ports including Miami, Port Canaveral near Kennedy Space Center, and Port Everglades near Fort Lauderdale.

Through August 2020, Florida lost around $2.3 billion in wages and 49,500 jobs because of the cruise industry shut down due to the pandemic, according to a September 2020 report by the Federal Maritime Commission.

“We’re the most crippled by what they’re doing with this national cruise lockdown, and so we get liberated from that, you’re going to be able to see maybe tens of thousands, maybe even 100,000 more people going back to work,” DeSantis said.

The CDC did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. 

According to the Associated Press, some experts say it’s still too early for cruise ships to operate again because of the close quarters on the vessels and other potential issues. 

The cargo and cruise operations at Florida’s Jacksonville seaport generate around 139,300 jobs in Florida and more than $31.1 billion in annual economic impact, said JAXPORT CEO Eric Green in a statement this month. 


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