US Appeals Court blocks federal COVID restrictions

   July 25, 2021 ,   Cruise Industry

A US Appeals Court late Friday, July 23, blocked federal COVID restrictions that had cut back the number of cruise ships operating from Florida ports.

The decision is a win for the Florida State, which filed a lawsuit arguing the restrictions imposed by the CDC had made it very difficult for the cruise industry to get going again after it had been shut down for ~16 months.

The decision applies only to cruise liners leaving from/arriving at Florida ports.

Earlier Friday, lawyers for Florida had asked in an emergency appeal the US Supreme Court to block the restrictions. The request now will likely be withdrawn, because the appeals court has given the state legal relief.

Under the federal rules, cruise ships were allowed to board guests if cruise shipping companies met such requirements as setting up Coronavirus testing labs, running test voyages, maintaining social distancing, establishing onshore housing for quarantining travelers.

The federal government said that the rules were necessary with the USA in the midst of a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic including several deadly outbreaks clustered on cruise vessels.

"These experiences demonstrated that cruise ships are uniquely suited to spread COVID-19, likely due to their close quarters for passengers and crew for prolonged periods."

Florida's main homeports are Miami, Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades), Tampa, Jacksonville, Palm Beach, and also Key West which is included as a call port in many Caribbean itineraries.