Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says if the federal government continues a pandemic ban on cruise ships using U.S. ports, to expect a lawsuit from the state. His threat on Friday aims to reopen the state’s biggest tourism sector which has been shut down since the state of the pandemic.
DeSantis appeared before the media at Port Canaveral with leaders from Carnival, Norwegian, Disney and Royal Caribbean cruise lines, along with Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody to explain Florida’s legal options, if the CDC does not allow ships to set sail from the US by summer.
Millions typically get aboard a cruise ship from Florida each year and the industry generates billions for the state’s economy. The CDC called for a shut down of the industry a year ago when several Coronavirus outbreaks were tied to ships worldwide, including a number of COVID-19 fatalities happening on the ships before returning to port.
DeSantis said the ban is hurting Florida with no real effect of the pandemic other than this being a stall tactic. He noted that cruise ships are resuming service elsewhere in the world, and that Americans are spending more by flying to the Bahamas to board ships.
“Is it OK for the government to just idle an industry for a year?” the Republican governor said. He said people now need to decide for themselves what they are willing to risk.” DeSantis and industry leaders argued Friday that with widespread testing and vaccines becoming more available, the danger is now no worse than air and train travel, which are open.
As of Friday, Florida was the only state to reach over 1,000 cases of COVID-19 B.1.1.7, the variant from the U.K., and has done away with a statewide mask mandate.
The U.S. could suffer another surge in cases unless pandemic safety measures are maintained, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky warned on Friday. Miami Beach officials declared a state of emergency and ordered a rare curfew over the weekend, an effort to avoid spreading COVID-19 and stop large crowds and unruly behavior in the popular tourist destination.