The state of Florida has launched a lawsuit calling for the immediate restart of cruising from U.S. ports. The move comes after pleas from cruise lines like Royal Caribbean (NYSE:RCL) and the Cruise Lines International Association, or CLIA, for the CDC to green-light a phased restart of summer cruises went unheeded.
The state attorney general's complaint describes the CDC's actions as "arbitrary and capricious" and asserts "the cruise industry has been singled out, and unlike the rest of America, prevented from reopening."
The complaint details how travel has resumed safely, citing early April airline passenger numbers increased approximately 1,500% over 2020. It says businesses like restaurants and theme parks are "safely reopening" in spite of COVID-19 "and those who would lock down society indefinitely." It also noted 32.6% of Americans have received at least one vaccine dose and vaccination is at 75.9% for people over 65.
It asks the court to "set aside the CDC's unlawful actions and hold that cruises should be allowed to operate with reasonable safety protocols."
At a press conference yesterday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared he doesn't believe "the federal government has the right to mothball a major industry for over a year based on very little evidence," CBS Miami reports. He also pointed out international cruise lines have resumed cruising without causing outbreaks thanks to proper health protocols.
Florida is the country's biggest cruise hub and the state's economy earns billions annually from the industry. DeSantis said Americans will simply fly to the Bahamas or another starting point if they can't sail from Florida.
The Orlando Sentinel quoted a constitutional law professor who dismissed the lawsuit as "a political stunt" that is "not viable." Nevertheless, DeSantis maintains, "I think we have a good chance for success," assuring Floridians, "Help is on the way."