MIAMI (AP) — The state of Florida has filed a lawsuit against the federal government to demand cruise ships be allowed to start sailing immediately, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Thursday.
DeSantis said the no-sail order is outdated and hurts the state as the industry generates billions for the economy and employs tens of thousands of Floridians.
“We don’t believe the federal government has the right to mothball a major industry for over a year based on very little evidence and very little data,” the Republican governor said at a news conference at the Port of Miami.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines last week for companies on how to respond in the event of COVID-19 cases but has so far not lifted its no-sail order.
The CDC shut down sailing last March when several coronavirus outbreaks were tied to ships worldwide, prompting ports to reject docking plans and leaving some passengers and crew members to navigate for an extended time.
Florida is the nation’s cruise capital with three of the world’s busiest ports: Miami, Port Canaveral near Kennedy Space Center, and Port Everglades near Fort Lauderdale. The industry generates billions for the state’s economy as millions of people typically cruise from one of Florida’s ports each year.
DeSantis has maintained the ban disproportionally impacts Florida and has said that cruising has resumed in much of the world, forcing Americans to fly to other ports in the nearby Bahamas. Industry leaders say there have been no new outbreaks tied to their ships.
“People are going to cruise one way or another. The question is are we going to do it out of Florida, which is the number one place to do it in the world, or are they going to be doing it out of the Bahamas or other locations?” DeSantis said.