Appeals Court docket Blocks CDC Restrictions on In-Revenue Cruises for Florida

Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of The Seas arrives at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on June 10, 2021.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

A federal appeals court on Friday sided with Florida in challenging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over federal cruise ship regulations that the state said were too burdensome and cost millions of dollars in lost tax revenue .

The US 11th appeals court’s bilateral ruling marks an unusual reversal of the appellate body’s ruling on Saturday.

The court did not explain the reason for the change, despite the latest ruling just hours after Florida brought the case to the Supreme Court to reverse the 11th district’s previous move. This action is likely to be withdrawn now.

The CDC rules have prevented the cruise industry from getting fully back to business during the country’s vaccine-fueled recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. At the start of the public health crisis, cruise lines were exposed to a number of high-profile outbreaks. The industry was among the hardest hit by the coronavirus.

A federal district court in Florida sided with the state last month in response to a lawsuit filed by Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody. Over the weekend, the 11th US Court of Appeals temporarily suspended this ruling, allowing CDC rules to remain in effect.

The decision of the 11th district on Saturday was made with 2: 1 votes. Friday’s decision was unanimous.

The shares of cruise companies Carnival Cruises, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line each fell more sharply than the broader market after the 11th Circuit’s decision was released on Monday.

On Friday afternoon, Moody rushed the case to the Supreme Court and asked the Supreme Court to overturn the Court of Appeal’s decision.

“The CDC’s order is apparently outside of its powers, as the District Court rightly found in the preliminary order,” Moody wrote on the file.

Moody said the CDC’s rules are an “ever-changing set of requirements” that are posted on the agency’s website.

In addition, the CDC rules mandated that cruise ships “set up COVID-19 test labs, conduct self-financed experiments called” test trips, “and adhere to social distancing requirements on all ships, including outdoor areas such as swimming pools and when waiting for the toilet.

Moody wrote that only five out of 65 ships governed by the CDC’s cruise rules were allowed to sail when the 11th Circle made its decision. She wrote on the file that Florida cruise restrictions have cost Florida tens of millions of dollars in taxes and port revenues. Without further action, the restrictions should remain in effect until November 2021.

The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The 11th district decision comes as the nation sees an increase in Covid-19 cases, mostly among those who have not been vaccinated, due to the highly transmissible Delta variant.

Moody said Wednesday she contracted Covid-19 despite receiving a vaccine. In a post on Friday on Twitter, Moody said she still had mild symptoms and encouraged people to get vaccinated.

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