TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – In April, the state of Florida sued the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) after the agency issued unlawful No Sail Orders. Unfortunately, the CDC has opted to continue its ridiculous and unlawful regulations that target a single industry by imposing vaccine requirements — something no other business or industry must do. Despite Florida’s sincere efforts to reach a compromise, the mediator appointed by the United States District Court declared an impasse. Yesterday, the state filed a response to the CDC’s request for more time to relitigate the case. Click here to read the State of Florida’s response.
The CDC did almost nothing to re-open sailing until Florida filed suit. As Florida’s cruise lines address the CDC’s constantly changing labyrinth of requirements for safety plans and simulations, time is of the essence. 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 CDC has no legal authority to mandate COVID-19 “vaccine passports” from anyone. 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.
RECKLESS FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DISCRIMINATION AGAINST FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN
By imposing unlawful vaccination requirements for cruise ships — something no other business can do — the CDC is discriminating against families with children, preventing them from cruising. At this time, COVID-19 vaccines are not approved for children under 12, yet the CDC rules would require 95% of all passengers to be vaccinated. Approximately 30% of cruise passengers are children. It is not possible for families to enjoy a cruise vacation under these unlawful regulations — they would either have to leave their children at home or forego the vacation altogether.
By leaving children behind, the entire cruise industry would fundamentally change, excluding countless families. In 2017, the average cruise travel party had an average of more than two children (CLIA, 2018) and vacationers who took cruises were more likely (32 percent) to travel with their children than those who went on land-based (25 percent) vacations (CLIA, 2018).
In 2017, the average age of children in cruise travel parties was 6 to 12 years old (CLIA, 2018) — too young to be eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. Moreover, COVID-19 is less dangerous for children than seasonal influenza; there is no scientific justification to mandate vaccination for young children.
IMPOSES COSTLY BURDENSOME REQUIREMENTS TO DELAY CRUISE SHIPS
Before Florida filed suit against the Federal Government, the CDC was reluctant to reach any form of agreement with any cruise line to begin sailing again. This deliberate bureaucratic delay was directly responsible for preventing thousands of employees from earning a living — even though Governor DeSantis had gone out of his way to ensure that all cruise line employees would have access to COVID-19 vaccines in Florida. Further, the CDC continues to prevent the cruise industry from staying afloat by instituting crippling regulatory requirements as a condition to future sailing.
During the negotiations between the state and the CDC, several cruise lines finally were given clearance by the CDC to start the process of “conditional cruises,” which does not guarantee full operations, and continues to move the goalposts. The CDC’s No Sail Orders remain in effect until November. Other burdensome and unscientific stipulations dictated by the CDC include:
- A baseless requirement for face masks to be worn by all travelers while on board a cruise ship — that anti-science policy singles out the cruise industry. Floridians can go to a restaurant, movie theatre or bar without a mask; no one should be forced to wear a mask on a cruise ship, especially when outside by the pool. Even the CDC has issued guidance stating that fully vaccinated people no longer must wear masks. Why does “the science” not apply on a cruise ship?
- The CDC not only insists on multiple, costly test cruises, but also refuses to guarantee that the completion of the test cruises will result in approval to resume operations. Under this ridiculous requirement, a cruise line could spend millions operating a test voyage, and still not be approved to resume full operations if a bureaucrat at the CDC doesn’t feel good about it that day.