MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – Plans to restart cruising to Alaska this summer could be threatened by Florida’s lawsuit against the federal government over conditions for cruise lines to resume sailings.
Florida sued the Biden administration to throw out the requirements, called a conditional sailing order, that were imposed on cruise lines before they can sail in U.S. water for the first time since March 2020.READ MORE: Court Takes Aim At Concealed-Weapons Licensing
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that Congress effectively ratified the conditional sailing order when it passed a law last month to let large cruise ships resume trips from Washington state to Alaska.
If Florida wins an injunction blocking the CDC order, it would “end cruising in Alaska for the season,” lawyers for the agency say because the bill pushed by Alaska’s Republican congressional delegation hinges on the CDC order being in effect. Several cruise lines have announced plans to sail to Alaska with vaccinated crew members and passengers starting in a few weeks.
Alaska estimates that cruising contributes $3 billion a year to the state economy. Alaska and Texas, another state with a sizeable cruising industry, sided with Florida early in the case.READ MORE: COVID Pandemic Takes Toll On Caregivers
Alaska’s attorney general’s office complained in a court filing this week about the CDC’s “constantly-morphing orders, restrictions and guidance” for large cruise ships.
Federal lawyers also said in a filing this week that granting Florida’s wish to block the CDC’s regulation of the cruising restart would undermine public confidence in cruising, “particularly in the state of Florida, which is publicly battling with the industry over its own laws.”
That was a reference to concern among cruise lines that a state law signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis that would prohibit the companies from requiring that passengers be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The federal judge overseeing Florida’s lawsuit against the Biden administration ordered both sides into mediation, which has failed to end the standoff.MORE NEWS: Rapper Pooh Shiesty, Now Facing Federal Charges, To Remain Locked Up
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)