Miami, FL (STL.News) Under the direction of Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida is suing the Biden Administration in federal district court to overturn the unlawful “Conditional Sailing Order” enacted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This unprecedented year-long lockdown of an entire industry by the federal government has directly harmed the State of Florida, its citizens, and their families, resulting in the loss of billions of dollars in economic activity.
“We must allow our cruise liners and their employees to get back to work and safely set sail again,” said Governor DeSantis. “To be clear, no federal law authorizes the CDC to indefinitely impose a nationwide shutdown of an entire industry. This lawsuit is necessary to protect Floridians from the federal government’s overreach and resulting economic harm to our state.”
“Cruises are a vital part of Florida’s tourism industry—employing thousands and boosting our state’s economy. Every day the federal government unfairly keeps this economic giant docked, our economy suffers. The ripple effect of this misguided federal lockdown has far-reaching implications for the cruise industry, international tourism, businesses that would benefit from the influx of visitors, our state’s economy and the thousands of Floridians who work in the industry,” said Attorney General Ashley Moody. “But what is even worse than the economic damage caused by this heavy-handed federal overreach is the precedent being set by an eager-to-regulate Biden administration that is unfairly singling out and keeping docked our cruise industry on the basis of outdated data. Our litigation seeks to end this federal overreach and allow Floridians to safely get back to work and travel.”
“The unwillingness of the CDC to adapt its guidelines to the ever-changing nature of the country’s pandemic response unrelentlessly destroys an industry that generates hundreds of thousands of jobs and several billions of dollars to our economy. These federal bureaucrats, who have no concept of what is actually happening out in the real world, have never had to face the reality of a prolonged furlough or have had their job jeopardized by the pandemic,” said Congressman Carlos Gimenez. “ I guarantee if it were their job on the line and they had to handle the things hardworking Americans have had to face ahead of this pandemic, they would find the solution and rectify this issue immediately. It is time to hold the CDC and this Administration accountable for the damages they are committing against these hardworking Americans and for what they are doing to our local economies. I applaud Attorney General Ashley Moody for filing this lawsuit and Governor Ron DeSantis for backing these efforts.”
“Unlike Florida, some have forgotten the most important element of a successful transportation system: the people and their families,” said Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin J. Thibault, P.E. “The CDC’s No Sail Order remains an arbitrary policy that clearly discriminates against one transportation method, and I applaud Governor DeSantis for continuing to advocate for the cruise industry and the thousands of Florida families who are struggling to make ends meet.”
The CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order harms the State and its citizens in at least 4 ways:
- Preventing numerous businesses and employees from earning a living;
- Contributing to our State’s unemployment;
- Exacerbating the massive shortfalls in revenues experienced by our State’s seaports; and
- Reducing state and local taxes associated with the cruise industry.
In March of 2020, following the CDC’s “No Sail Order,” Florida’s cruise industry came to a screeching halt. To this day—over 1 year later—the Biden Administration continues to prohibit Florida’s cruise ships from operating under its Conditional Sailing Order. This prohibition continues notwithstanding the fact that COVID-19 vaccines are widely available, that other countries have safely and successfully resumed cruise sailings, and that other industries like airlines, bus lines, hotels, restaurants, universities, theme parks, casinos, and bars have successfully reopened.
The economic devastation wrought by the CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order cannot be overstated. A September 2020 report from the Federal Maritime Commission estimated that during the first 6 months of the pandemic, losses in Florida due to the cruise industry shutdown totaled $3.2 billion in economic activity, including 49,500 jobs paying $2.3 billion in wages. To date, over 6,000 former cruise industry employees have filed for State unemployment. Since the CDC’s shutdown went into effect, Florida’s seaports have suffered a decline in operating revenue of almost $300 million, and this figure is projection to increase to nearly $400 million in July of 2021. And projections show that Florida’s cruise industry could have produced over $150 million in state and local tax revenues in the 2020-2021 fiscal cruise year.