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CDC drops its appeal in case on Florida's cruise industry restrictions

In this file photo, the Norwegian Gem cruise ship leaves the Port of Miami on April 14, 2020 in Miami Beach, Florida. The first trip of the Norwegian Gem after a pandemic-induced hiatus, is scheduled to take off from Miami on Aug. 15.
In this file photo, the Norwegian Gem cruise ship leaves the Port of Miami on April 14, 2020 in Miami Beach, Florida. The first trip of the Norwegian Gem after a pandemic-induced hiatus, is scheduled to take off from Miami on Aug. 15.

Federal government attorneys said Tuesday they are dropping an appeal in Florida’s battle against Centers for Disease Control and Prevention restrictions on the cruise industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A motion for dismissal filed at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did not explain the decision, but the CDC on Saturday let expire what is known as a “conditional sailing order” that placed COVID-19 restrictions on the industry.

The CDC urged cruise operators to voluntarily continue public-health measures to try to prevent spread of the virus. Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, backed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, filed a lawsuit last year challenging the restrictions, which came after the cruise industry shut down because of COVID-19 outbreaks onboard ships early in the pandemic.

The legal battle focused heavily on the conditional sailing order. Tampa-based U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday agreed with the state’s arguments and issued a preliminary injunction against the restrictions. U.S. Department of Justice attorneys, representing the CDC, appealed Merryday’s ruling to the Atlanta-based appellate court, where it has remained pending.

The appeals court had not acted on the motion for dismissal late Tuesday afternoon.

Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. said it would continue to voluntarily comply with the CDC public health measures after the expiration of the conditional sailing order.

“Our adoption of the voluntary program provides guests, crew, travel partners and other stakeholders with the assurance that our brands will continue to meet and exceed the provisions laid out by the CDC and provide unparalleled health and safety protocols not found in any other sector of the travel and leisure space,” Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, said in a statement.

Copyright 2022 Health News Florida.