TAMPA, Fla. — Florida’s lawsuit over the CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order for cruise lines has been referred to mediation by a judge.
The state filed the lawsuit against the CDC and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in April. Governor Ron DeSantis said the lawsuit was "necessary to protect Floridians from the federal government’s overreach and resulting economic harm to our state."
We must fight to get our cruise liners and their employees back to work and safely sailing again. To be clear, no federal law authorizes the @CDCgov to indefinitely shutdown an entire industry.— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) April 8, 2021
An order filed on Tuesday shows the parties involved must mediate no later than June 1.
For the Florida Ports Council, they're pleased with the judge's decision.
“I think now there’s a lot of good discussion with the CDC to move forward in some rational manner,” said Michael Rubin, Interim President for the Florida Ports Council.
The state argued that the Conditional Sailing Order goes above and beyond the scope of the CDC, but the CDC pushed back. The CDC says they’ve outlined a plan to return to cruising, and that it’s entirely within the cruise line industry's hands to be able to set sail.
The order would require cruise lines to either operate a simulated test voyage carrying volunteer passengers or in order to bypass that, it would require 98% of crew and 95% of passengers to be fully vaccinated on the ship.
The state argues the order should be disposed of altogether, arguing that the industry has the ability to regulate itself via the Healthy Sail Panel plan.
The Florida Ports Council says Florida ports are prepared for cruise lines to return to sailing.
“Cruise lines know how to deal with these issues. They’ve dealt with the norovirus, when people have whatever flu or whatever symptoms are out there, they’ve dealt with that," said Rubin.
Carnival Cruise Line tells ABC Action News that they're actively working with the CDC to return to sailing in July. They say their 2022 bookings already exceed those from 2019.
They say they're taking all the necessary safety steps, but as it stands now, under the CDC's current vaccination requirements, Carnival says they would not be able to allow kids on board, as there is no vaccine authorized yet for children under 12.