The U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a ruling from a lower court, which blocked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from enforcing safety rules for cruise ships to resume sailing.
The Saturday night 2-1 decision by the Atlanta-based court is a major setback for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. He had sued the CDC last month in an attempt to clear the way for the cruise industry — a key economic force in the state — to resume sailing without the federal government’s restrictions. DeSantis celebrated the initial ruling by a Tampa federal judge, which said the CDC’s rules would instead become suggestions. But the latest court decision puts a stay on that earlier judgment.
The appeals court gave no explanation for the decision, except for saying lawyers for the federal government had made “the requisite showing” to obtain a stay allowing the CDC rules to remain in effect.
It is worth noting that cruise lines did not support DeSantis’ lawsuit.
In fact, Norwegian Cruise Lines filed its own lawsuit to block DeSantis’ policy forbidding state businesses — including cruise ships sailing from Florida — from insisting that guests be vaccinated. NCL wants to impose such rules in order to maintain passengers safety and allay fears that they might get sick on a cruise ship.
The CDC has argued that it has the right to enforce rules on cruise ships to prevent further outbreaks of the coronavirus.
From the Miami Herald:
“The CDC protocols at issue here require conventional communicable disease control measures on cruise ships traveling internationally, which is an area of traditional federal jurisdiction,” the U.S. Department of Justice stated in a letter filed Thursday to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
“For example, the technical guidance instructs cruise operators to inspect (test) passengers and crew for infection,” the letter continued, “to quarantine exposed persons who are potentially contagious and isolate persons found to be infected; to arrange for the safe disembarkation of such persons; and to take related sanitary measures such as mask wearing and physical distancing to prevent the spread of the virus.”
The next step for DeSantis could be to ask the full bench of the 11th Circuit to reinstate the injunction against the CDC policy. He could also try to take the case to the Supreme Court.