JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis touted Florida’s victory in a federal lawsuit against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention aimed at lifting the health agency’s ban on sailing, which has been in place since March 2020.
The governor said this at the end of a news conference in Jacksonville on Monday where he was highlighting money in the state’s budget earmarked for Alzheimer’s and dementia research and treatment.
“We were able to secure a really strong victory on Friday in our suit against the CDC to open up the cruise industry,” DeSantis said.
On Friday, a federal judge in Tampa granted Florida’s motion for a preliminary injunction against the CDC’s no sail order, which was put in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You had people flying on airplanes, going to theme parks but, somehow, this one industry was being shut down by an agency that didn’t really have the legal authority to do that,” the governor said.
U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday granted the preliminary injunction in a 124-page ruling.
“This order finds that Florida is highly likely to prevail on the merits of the claim that CDC’s conditional sailing order and the implementing orders exceed the authority delegated to the CDC,” Merryday wrote.
Merryday delayed the effect of his order until just after midnight on July 18, after that the CDC no-sail order will be a “recommendation” or “guideline,” according to court documents.
The governor suggested this ruling could have ramifications beyond the cruise industry.
“We’ve seen throughout this country, government overstep its bounds in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and you can’t have an agency relying on flimsy legal authority to just keep an entire industry closed with really no path forward,” DeSantis said.
Despite the governor’s assertion that the cruise industry had been offered “no path forward,” cruise lines are beginning to test sailing under rules from the CDC.
The CDC can appeal and has until July 2 to propose a narrower injunction permitting cruise ships to sail. If the CDC responds, Florida has seven days to respond to its proposal and the parties will resume mediation.
“This is something that needed to happen. So, we’re happy. We think that, basically, we succeeded, and we think the appeal — if they do choose to appeal it — I think will succeed there,” DeSantis said.