An appeals court in the U.S. decided that the CDC will still be able to impose COVID-19 health and safety restrictions on the cruise industry.
n June, District Judge Steven Merryday decided against the CDC in a suit brought by the state of Florida, finding that the state would succeed in its claim that the CDC cannot limit cruise vessel operations for the purpose of controlling COVID-19.
Now, Judge Merryday issued a temporary injunction preventing the CDC from enforcing its “conditional sailing order”, and gave the CDC until July 18 to revise its rules. In case that does not happen, after July 18 the rules would “persist as only a non-binding consideration, recommendation, or guideline, the same tools used by CDC when addressing the practices in other similarly situated industries”.
However, the CDC appealed Merryday’s ruling, claiming that the CSO will ensure an orderly restart to cruising as well as address the potential for a resurgence of the virus.
Nevertheless, in a recent ruling, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit issued a temporary stay, blocking the injunction and permitting the CDC to continue enforcing its conditional sailing order.
The CSO allows cruise ships to sail on commercial revenue voyages if they satisfy one of two different certification options:
- Ensure that 95% of the passengers and 98% of the crew on board are vaccinated;
- The second option is to undertake a “trial cruise” test run to showcase each vessel’s COVID-control protocols.
Regarding the first option, cruise companies’ efforts to comply have encountered a challenge, as Florida has decided to ban all businesses from requiring proof of vaccination for service, also imposing a potential penalty of $5,000 per customer.