Court grants hold on Florida cruise ruling in win for CDC

Judge ruled last month CDC overstepped legal authority for cruise restrictions

In a win for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a federal appeals court has granted a hold on a U.S. district judge’s ruling that backed Florida in a fight about the cruise-ship industry.

New court documents show the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted the motion Saturday from the CDC. Now that the stay was issued, the CDC rules will stay in place allowing the industry to resume operations if certain thresholds are met.

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The CDC put in a request on July 7 for the court to issue a stay after U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday refused to put on hold his June 18 ruling that the CDC overstepped its legal authority in placing cruising restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The initial ruling from Merryday granted the preliminary injunction in a 124-page ruling that was supposed to go in effect on Sunday, July 18, which would have made the CDC’s rules a “recommendation” or “guideline.”

Attorneys representing the CDC wrote in the initial request that the injuction “rests on errors of law and is a clear abuse of the district court’s discretion” and argued it will “exacerbate the spread of COVID-19.”

The court granting the stay comes as Florida is seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases and a higher positivity rate. The latest data from the Florida Health Department shows more than 45,000 new cases have been reported with an 11.5% positivity rate. That’s about four times higher than this time in June.

Right now, when cruises will resume is on the minds of many.

This is happening as Disney’s cruise line left from Port Canaveral Saturday for a test cruise with volunteer Disney employees.

““Everybody’s waiting for it, so yes it’s cool,” said Jan Barker, who lives in Brevard County.

It was the first cruise ship to depart from the port with passengers since the pandemic.

“This will be a big help when everything get started back,” said Joe Woelich, who lives in Brevard County.

The port is also getting ready for its first revenue sailing with the Carnival Mardi Gras on July 31.

“We are one giant step closer to the day that we will sail again with guests on board,” said Christine Duffy, President of Carnival Cruise Line on June 4.

Right now, as many cruise lines have taking steps to ensure safety at sea, Gov. Ron DeSantis has been vocal about prior failed mediation with the CDC.

“They were very unreasonable about some of the things they were asking,” DeSantis said on June 3. “You don’t need to discriminate against people and you shouldn’t.”

A message left for the Governor’s office seeking reaction on the new hold wasn’t immediately returned.

About the Author:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.