Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of The Seas arrives at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on June 10, 2021.
Joe Raedle | Getty Images
The state of Florida on Friday called on the Supreme Court to curb restrictions on cruises imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, days after a lower court ruled that the restrictions remained in effect.
The 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. On Monday, the 11th US Court of Appeals temporarily suspended this decision so that the CDC rules can remain in effect for the time being.
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 decision was published.
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 are expected to remain in force until November 2021.
The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The litigation comes as the nation sees a surge in Covid-19 cases, mostly in unvaccinated people due to the highly communicable 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.
The application was filed with Judge Clarence Thomas, who oversees emergency applications from Florida, although it is likely to be under scrutiny by the entire court. The Supreme Court has a 6-3 majority of Republican-appointed judges.