Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has threatened to sue the federal government if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not permit cruises to resume operations by summer.
At a Friday news conference with Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and leaders of Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Disney and Norwegian cruise lines, DeSantis made a case for lifting the cruise ban.
“They did the No-Sail Order in March of 2020,” DeSantis said. “And it’s never been really to the point where they’re making an effort to really get it back.”
The CDC has indicated that the No-Sail Order will remain in place until November 1, 2021.
It has been over a year since all cruise lines were forced to close due to the pandemic outbreak. This move has cost Florida $3.2 billion in the first six months of the pandemic, as well as 49,500 jobs and $2.3 billion in wages. In addition, Florida’s tourism industry was impacted – from airports and ground transportation to hotels, restaurants and tourist destinations.
Florida is the nation’s cruise capital and is home to three of world’s busiest ports.
At Friday’s new conference, DeSantis said the ban is affecting all Florida businesses.
“This has a kind of ripple effect throughout all businesses,” he said. “When they’re sailing, there is more economic opportunity for people across a wide range of businesses. It affects a lot of jobs. What we need is a way forward.”
“Is it OK for the government to idle an industry for a year with no end in sight?”
DeSantis and cruise industry executives argued that with widespread testing and vaccines becoming more available, the danger is now no worse than air and train travel. They added that many other major countries have begun to operate cruises safely under health guidelines.
“The federal government has provided guidance to all other passenger transportation modes and other industries; however, it has failed to issue guidance for the cruise industry to assist in its recovery,” DeSantis said in a press release.
“Let’s get people back to the work. The health situation has changed,” said Thomas Mazloum, president of Disney Cruise Line. “Cruise lines are cruising very successfully outside the United States, proving that with the right protocols cruising is a very safe and beautiful experience.”
“The Biden administration is keeping our cruise liners docked—while many other major countries begin to operate cruises safely under health guidelines. The rationale for keeping U.S. cruises shuttered through the foreseeable future is based on outdated data and guidelines put in place before we had a COVID-19 vaccine,” said Attorney General Ashley Moody. “This heavy-handed federal overreach is harming our nation’s economy and is especially damaging to Florida’s economy and our vital tourism industry. That is why, we are calling on the Biden administration to lift the outdated lockdown order on Florida’s cruise industry and allow workers who rely on this important industry to get back to work.”
DeSantis also recommended that the cruise industry receive over $250 million to account for the losses accrued due to the no-sail order.
“If there is one thing we’ve learned over the past year, it’s that lockdowns don’t work, and Floridians deserve the right to earn a living,” said DeSantis.
“The cruise industry is essential to our state’s economy and keeping it shut down until November would be devastating to the men and women who rely on the cruise lines to provide for themselves and their families. I urge the CDC to immediately rescind this baseless no-sail order to allow Floridians in this industry to get back to work.”
Follow Annaliese Levy on Twitter @AnnalieseLevy