• Tom Drake

Judge Issues Restraining Order in Florida's Favor

Judge Merryday issues order and then postpones the order until July 18.

In a ruling that will make the restart of cruising in Florida even more difficult and confusing for the cruise industry, a federal judge on Friday ruled for Florida in a lawsuit challenging a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention order making it difficult for cruise ships to resume sailing due to the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday wrote in a 124-page decision that Florida would be harmed if the CDC order, which the state said effectively blocked most cruises, were to continue. The Judge wrote in his 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. “Florida persuasively claims that the conditional sailing order will shut down most cruises through the summer and perhaps much longer,” the judge wrote, adding that Florida “faces an increasingly threatening and imminent prospect that the cruise industry will depart the state.”

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said “Today’s ruling is a victory for the hardworking Floridians whose livelihoods depend on the cruise industry,” said Moody, a Republican. “The federal government does not, nor should it ever, have the authority to single out and lock down an entire industry indefinitely.”

A spokesperson for the Cruise Line Industry Association which has stayed out of the way during this turf war between Florida and the Federal Government in a statement said said the trade group was reviewing the ruling and what it means for resuming cruises from U.S. ports. Carnival Corp. said it too was reviewing the decision. “The health and safety of cruise passengers, crew and the communities we visit remains the top priority for CLIA cruise line members, and cruise ships are well on their way to offering the traveling public a high level of COVID-19 mitigation,” Lambert said in a statement.

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