The cruise ship industry has been subject to COVID-19 heath and safety protocols developed by the CDC, in collaboration with the cruise line industry. The good news for the industry is that cruise lines have started to operate again. However, the dilemma in the State of Florida is cruise lines, along with the CDC, want to have a requirement that all the passengers be vaccinated. Meanwhile the Governor in the State of Florida issued a law prohibiting businesses from requiring full vaccination of customers before entry is granted. The Governor initially won the first battle in Court in a lawsuit against the Federal Government, where it was argued the CDC overstepped their authority with respect to the requirements for the cruise lines. The Federal District Judge ruled in favor of the State of Florida by granting an injunction preventing the CDC from implementing the guidelines, stating the State of Florida “is highly likely to prevail on the merits of the claim that CDC’s conditional sailing order in the implementing orders exceed the authority delegated” to the agency.
The recent battle is a successful one for the CDC/Cruise lines. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 to grant a temporary stay of the Federal Judges Order which precluded the CDC’s sailing order and health requirements from being implemented. The Department of Justice argued “there is no basis to lift the COVID-19 health and safety protocols that were developed by CDC in collaboration with the cruise ship industry”. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has granted the Federal Government’s Motion to Stay the prior Order of the District Judge.
Accordingly, at the present time the CDC protocols apply pending further litigation on this issue, which of course will be coming.
At this point, good news for those looking forward to cruise ships being fully operational. Cruise lines have worked together with the CDC to try to develop protocols that they believe is in the best interest of the public for safety. The cruise lines obviously want to have the backing of the CDC when they become fully operational to support arguments that all necessary safety precautions against COVID are in place. This will help the cruise lines argue, in case there are any instances of COVID outbreaks on a cruise ship, at least the cruise ship industry implemented the safety protocols adopted by the CDC in collaboration.
We will continue to keep an eye on this ongoing battle between the CDC/Cruise ship industry the Governor of the State of Florida.