A federal appeals court has ruled that Florida-based cruise ships will be able to keep COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in place for now.
On Saturday, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily blocked a June ruling in favor of a Florida lawsuit that had challenged the regulations, the Associated Press reported.
The latest ruling means that U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pandemic regulations for Florida-based cruise ships remain in place while the agency appeals the Florida lawsuit, which had been set to take effect at midnight Saturday.
“The undisputed evidence shows that unregulated cruise ship operations would exacerbate the spread of COVID-19, and that the harm to the public that would result from such operations cannot be undone,” the CDC said in a court filing, the AP reported.
The Florida lawsuit — which claims that the CDC’s rules for cruise ships are overly burdensome and affect state jobs and revenues — is championed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
A spokeswoman for DeSantis did not respond to requests for comment, the AP reported. In court filings, attorneys for Florida urged the 11th Circuit to reject the CDC request to keep its rules intact for now.
“The equities overwhelmingly favor allowing the cruise industry to enjoy its first summer season in two years while this Court sorts out the CDC’s contentions on appeal,” Florida’s lawyers argued.
The CDC halted cruise ships from sailing in March 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which had affected passengers and crew on numerous ships.
Last October, the agency imposed a four-phase conditional framework it said would allow the industry to gradually resume operations if certain thresholds were met, the AP reported.
Several cruise lines have started preliminary cruises under the CDC guidelines, the AP reported.
Visit the CDC for more on COVID protocols for cruise ships.