Alaska cruise law may affect Florida lawsuit against CDC

Coronavirus

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A new law in Alaska may affect Florida’s lawsuit against the CDC, possibly giving the federal agency the authority Florida attorneys have been arguing it lacks.

The Alaska Tourism Restoration Act, or ATRA, passed Congress last month. The law references the conditional certificates cruise lines must get from the CDC before sailing again.

Federal attorneys argue that law is a de facto approval of the CDC’s authority to issue its Conditional Sail Order, which has effectively kept international cruise ships out of American waters for more than a year.

In a hearing in the federal courthouse in Tampa on Thursday, attorneys argued over the federal government’s motion to dismiss Florida’s request for a preliminary injunction against the CDC, which would invalidate the Conditional Sail Order. What would happen to cruise ships and how they’d get back on the water in that scenario is unclear.

Capt. John Murray is the CEO of Port Canaveral, and has been attending all of the hearings in the case. Murray says Port Canaveral gets 80% of its revenue from cruise ships, and the CDC has gone too far.

“[CDC] will always have that regulatory authority,” Murray said. “It’s just this one Conditional Sail Order that’s creating all the difficulty right now.”

Federal District Judge Steven Merryday is presiding over the case, with another judge acting as mediator. Merryday said Thursday he hopes to issue his order “very soon,” but did not give an exact timeline.

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