“This Is About Misuse Of Government Power”: Judge Quickly Denies CDC’s Appeal To Keep COVID-19 Cruise Restrictions

Earlier this week we reported that the CDC had asked for a stay to the injunction on the Conditional Sail Order. It didn’t take Judge Merryday long to ponder the question of whether or not he should grant a stay in the case. The answer from the judge was a clear and definite DENIED.

The injunction of the CSO will remain in place as initially planned and will go into effect on July 18. This ruling does not affect the appeal the government organization has in the US court of appeals in Atlanta.

However,  it is a blow for the CDC, who, according to the judge, has shown no reasoning why the CDC should be able to wield extreme and unnecessary measures over one industry.

It’s Not About Health

While the CDC insists that this case is about the measures the cruise industry needs to follow and about the health and well-being of guests onboard cruise ships while stopping the spread of COVID ashore and onboard, Judge Merryday has some different thoughts on this.

According to the three-page response the judge penned, the CDC is mistakenly taking this as a health issue, where the judge sees the CDC using unwarranted governmental power, according to Fox Business:

“This action is not about what health precautions against COVID-19 are necessary or helpful aboard a cruise ship; this action is about the use and misuse of governmental power.”

The CDC then uses this power to dismiss the ability of local health authorities to deal with any situation that might come up:

“Although CDC invariably garnishes the argument with dire prospects of ‘transmission’ of COVID-19 aboard a cruise vessel, these dark allusions dismiss state and local health authorities, the industry’s self-regulation, and the thorough and costly preparations and accommodations by all concerned to avoid ‘transmission’ and to confine and control the ‘transmission,’ if one occurs,”

Judge Merryday has likely taken into account that he offered the CDC the chance to develop an alternative to the CSO, something the CDC has not been willing to take part in. The government has also not proven that a stay would hurt the CDC, the United States, any third party, or the public materially.

What’s Next?

The ruling from Judge Merryday on the CSO and the request for a stay is not the end of the line for the CSO. Even after July 18, the CSO will remain in place. The difference is that the CSO would become a recommendation instead of a regulation. Meaning cruise lines can act upon it or not at will.

The entire Conditional Sail Order could also be reinstated in Florida if the CDC’s appeal in the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit proved successful. The CSO is in place until November of this year. 

The cruise lines could decide for themselves that they will comply with the rules as most ships will be sailing already in the upcoming month, and preparations are already underway or complete to sail under the CSO.

By Robert McGillivray of CruiseHive