A federal appeals court on Friday, July 23, accepted to have Chinese Communist Party Virus (COVID-19) protocols for cruise ships in Florida removed. The controls were imposed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

The ruling initially was issued by Tampa judge Steven Merryday but was temporarily blocked last week by a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals before it went into effect. Arguing that the CDC was unable to establish its legal authority to issue the no-sail order in the first place, the panel reversed their decision, the Associated Press reported. 

After Judge Merryday refused to postpone his June 18 finding that the CDC overstepped its legal jurisdiction in imposing cruising limitations during the CCP Virus outbreak, the agency requested a stay of their restrictions on July 7.

The panel granted the temporary blocking on Saturday, July 18 as the CDC was in the process of appealing the June decision by judge Merryday. 

In March 2020, reacting to the pandemic, the CDC issued a blanket ban on cruise ships sailing. Unfortunately, there were infected passengers and crew on several ships. The agency then implemented a four-phase conditional framework on Oct. 30 of last year, claiming that it would allow the industry to gradually resume operations if there were milestones of CCP Virus regression.

Leading the lawsuit against these restrictions, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis criticized that they were hindering a multibillion-dollar industry that provides some 159,000 jobs and revenue collected by the state.

Judge Merryday ruled that the CDC could not enforce those standards for ships based in Florida, saying the limitations can only be issued as guidelines.

The health agency defended their protocols by saying that such ships could become the catalyst for faster CCP Virus transmission, as they frequently stop at international ports.

“The undisputed evidence shows that unregulated cruise ship operations would exacerbate the spread of COVID-19, and that the harm to the public that would result from such operations cannot be undone,” the CDC said in a court filing.

In a news conference on July 19, DeSantis said the CDC’s no-sail requirement was a case of government overreach, saying Florida has a high chance of winning the lawsuit.  

“It raises a bigger question. Can you just have one agency and the government without Congress ever passing a law—just basically shutting down an industry?” he said, according to ClickOrlando.

“Maybe you don’t care about the cruise industry, but next time it might be your industry. Next time, it may affect people that you know or people that depend on this for their livelihood. So, I think it raises a lot of important implications.”

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