ORLANDO, Fla. – Mediation has failed to settle the case between the state of Florida and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding the reopening of the cruise industry.
Taryn Fenske, communications director for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, issued a statement Thursday, saying the state filed a response to the CDC’s request for more time to relitigate the case.
“After more than a week of good-faith negotiations by the State of Florida in mediation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), after Florida sued the CDC to overturn the agencies unlawful No Sail Order, the CDC continues to impose ridiculous, unlawful regulations that targets a single industry by imposing vaccine requirements – something no other business or industry must do. These requirements not only discriminate against one industry, but children, families, and small businesses. Despite Florida’s sincere efforts to reach a compromise, the United States District Court declared an impasse.”
It’s not known when District Court Judge Steven D. Merryday will announce the next step in the case.
DeSantis later addressed the stalemate at a news conference in South Florida.
“I’ve been fighting for this for nine months,” DeSantis said in Key Biscayne. “Under current Florida law, (cruise lines) are absolutely able to do it. They all have operations to be able to handle (reopening). I can tell you I’ve spoken with executives on almost all the major cruise lines, (and) they’re ready to go.”
DeSantis said the CDC is squarely to blame.
“They’ve mothballed this industry for over a year, and then we were in mediation with them, they were very unreasonable about some of the things that they were asking about to insist upon,” he said. “Saying you have to wear a mask when you’re sunbathing, I mean some of the stuff they’ve actually put out there, even though you have (Dr. Anthony) Fauci in his emails admitting the masks don’t even stop COVID ... so we’re going to be sailing, hopefully very soon.”
The governor said he’s confident Florida will prevail.
“We think we have the pathway if we win this case that’s in Tampa now, it’s going to be open, (cruise lines are) going to be able to do it, and they will be able to handle it,” DeSantis said.
Later in the day, the governor’s office issued a statement about the situation, saying, “While it is a positive sign to see the CDC begin to green light “conditional cruises” following Florida’s lawsuit, there is still no set date upon which cruises can resume business operations. The CDC has no excuse for ruining two summers of sailing and it is well past time to end the CDC’s desperate attempt to prolong its power trip over America. Floridians are ready for a real trip on our waters.”
The state also addressed the issue of so-called “vaccine passports.”
“The CDC has no legal authority to mandate COVID-19 ‘vaccine passports’ from anyone,” the state said. “Floridians’ medical privacy is protected under Florida law. The evolving requirements on testing, masks, communications, vaccinations and simulations only reiterate Florida’s concerns that the CDC is taking the cruise industry on a slow boat to nowhere by moving the goalposts every day. Besides, the CDC’s ridiculous percentage for vaccinated cruise passengers — 95% — is contrary to the President’s own benchmark for societal immunity. As a result, the CDC is once again proving itself to be a bureaucratic virus against science-based governance and plain old commonsense.”
Last month, Merryday signed an order saying the state and U.S. government must participate in the mediation prior to June 1.
DeSantis announced a lawsuit in April against the the CDC and the HHS to allow cruises, which have been halted for over a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, to restart in the U.S. Alaska and Texas later joined the lawsuit.
“We’re filing a lawsuit against the federal government and the CDC, demanding that our cruise ships be reopened immediately,” DeSantis said last month at the Port of Miami.
The CDC last month added new guidelines for cruise lines, saying ships must make test voyages, implement routine coronavirus testing and develop a strategy to vaccinate crews. However, the CDC has also adjusted travel guidelines adding that vaccinated individuals can travel domestically and internationally.
The CDC has not made it clear when it would lift its no sail order.