The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) has come out in support of Governor Ron DeSantis’s announcement that the State of Florida has filed a lawsuit against the CDC to remove restrictions on cruise travel.
On Thursday, Governor DeSantis announced that the state had filed a lawsuit in federal district court against the Biden Administration, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), citing what it calls "an unlawful" "Conditional Sailing" Order (COS) that's prevented the cruise industry from restarting voyages from Florida ports.
Zane Kerby, president, and CEO of ASTA, said in a statement the CDC has taken little substantive action and maintains that cruising cannot be resumed safely, despite more than 170 million vaccines administered, falling infection and mortality rates in most state.
According to ASTA, 150,000 American travel advisors are the worldwide sales channel for the cruise industry.
“We find the CDC’s position singling out cruising perplexing given that nearly every other group activity one can envision - from attending sporting events to dining indoors in restaurants to visiting movie theaters and gyms, not to mention traveling by air and staying in hotels - has already resumed safely with masking requirements and social distancing protocols in place,” Kerby continued.
Kerby said recent cruise protocols have been effective, as seen in both Asia and Europe, where cruising has already resumed, noting that out of 400,000 passengers, there have been only 50 cases of on-board infection, an exceedingly low rate, and zero fatalities. He also pointed to the CDC’s recent announcement that those who have been vaccinated are at low risk to spread infection and can resume domestic travel as long as they adhere to social distancing and masking protocols.
“Why this pronouncement applies to the 1.5 million airline passengers flying every day but does not apply to those who would choose to cruise, is arbitrary and capricious. It is long past time for the CDC to issue the guidance needed to permit sailing to resume or rescind the order in its entirety, as we stated yesterday in our letter to the White House COVID-19 Recovery Team Coordinator, Jeffrey Zients.
“We stand with U.S. Senators Rubio, Scott, Murkowski and Sullivan and our partners at the Cruise Lines Industry Association (CLIA) urging immediate action and express our support for the legal action to being taken by Governor DeSantis to immediately rescind the CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order," Kerby said.