A last-minute decision by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will keep the CDC’s COVID-19 cruise ship restrictions in place for now.
On Saturday, a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court issued a temporary stay that will keep the CDC’s COVID-19 regulations in place in Florida, despite a previous ruling from a U.S. District Judge last month. The CDC will now have a chance to appeal the previous ruling while the restrictions remain in place.
The ruling came down just minutes before the previous ruling would have gone into effect.
In the ruling, which saw one judge dissent and two support the CDC, the court said that the appellants "made the requisite showing" in the case. Judge's opinions are expected sometime soon.
The court battle started earlier this year. Fla. Gov. Ron DeSantis sued the CDC in April, alleging that the CDC’s CSO was unfairly harming the cruise industry. A Fla. judge ruled in favor of the state in June with DeSantis declaring “a really strong victory” after the ruling came down.
The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), which intervened in the original case as an amicus in support of Florida, applauded that decision and said that the original ruling puts the cruise industry on equal footing with the treatment of other businesses, including airlines, hotels, and railroads.
The CDC appealed that ruling weeks later, arguing that despite the judge’s ruling, the CSO does not “shut down” the cruise industry as Florida has argued, but instead provides a path for the industry to move forward safely.
U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday denied the CDC a stay in the lawsuit. Merryday wrote in his decision that the CDC’s argument about “dire prospects of ‘transmission’ of COVID-19 aboard a cruise vessel…dismiss state and local health authorities, the industry’s self-regulation, and the thorough and costly preparations and accommodations by all concerned to avoid ‘transmission’ and to confine and control the ‘transmission,’ if one occurs.”
The CDC then appealed the decision to the 11th Circuit of Appeals, which issued its ruling on Saturday.