- The Washington Times - Friday, July 23, 2021

The state of Florida asked the Supreme Court on Friday to lift COVID-19 restrictions on cruise ships so the industry can start taking passengers back out to sea.

“Today, we filed an emergency motion in the U.S. Supreme Court to ensure the cruise industry can get back to work. We will continue to fight in court to defend the hundreds of thousands of Floridians who rely on the cruise industry for their livelihoods,” said Lauren Cassedy, a spokesperson for the Florida Attorney General’s Office.

The request was filed with Justice Clarence Thomas, who oversees the U.S. Circuit Court for the 11th Circuit. 

A three-judge panel for the circuit court refused to lift the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 orders earlier this month, but on Friday the judges reversed their prior move and left the preliminary injunction in place. It’s unclear if the reversal will impact Florida’s emergency motion to the high court. 

The state of Florida argued that the CDC’s multi-step phase as part of its “No Sail Order” is causing economic damage to the states’ ports.

In its filing to the high court, Florida noted only five ships out of at least 65 have been cleared to cruise out of the state.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDC issued multiple steps and requirements for the industry to get back on the water with passengers. 

Some of those requirements include that 98% of the crew is vaccinated as well as 95% of the passengers. 

The CDC also requires all crew who are not vaccinated to wear masks. Passengers, likewise, are required to wear masks under the federal mask mandate.

The CDC argued in court papers before the 11th Circuit that Florida is ignoring that cruise ships and international travel fall within its regulatory authority.

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