A federal appeals court blocked the lower-court decision that would only make US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID protocols into mere suggestions. This decision will allow the health agency to continue enforcing safety protocols in the cruise industry.
Last June, US District Judge Steven Merryday ruled that the CDC’s conditional sailing order “likely constitutes an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power to CDC”. However, during Saturday’s hearing, the federal appeals court ruled a 2-1 vote in favor of the CDC.
In a motion filed by the health agency, it stated that Florida ignored public health safety protocols that fall under the CDC’s functions. According to the CDC, Florida “disregards the threat to public health that would arise if cruise ship operators were at liberty to ignore the CDC guidance or to act without oversight from public-health authorities”.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said that they are looking to challenge the court’s ruling.
95% Vaccination Threshold
Thanks to the federal appeals court decision, CDC can continue imposing the conditional sailing order to the industry. The CDC has updated its conditional sailing order in the last months. This time, cruises can operate if they can meet the required vaccination threshold. Cruises will need to have 95% of their passengers and crew vaccinated. If not, they can run a simulated voyage with volunteer passengers. A test voyage will run the COVID protocols that will be applied on paid cruises.
Simulated voyages are popular among cruises catering to younger individuals that are not yet eligible for vaccination.
Cruises Will Still Have to Deal with Other Complications
Though the federal appeals court allowed CDC to continue enforcing protocols, cruises are still struggling to sail in Florida. Florida has a ban on vaccine passports making it tricky for cruises to operate. Businesses can’t ask for the vaccination status of their employees and customers. To make things worse, breaking this law can result in a $5000 fine for each passenger.