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Federal judge strikes down CDC's 'authoritarian' COVID-19 cruise ship rules, comparing it to a nationwide ban on sex because STDs exist

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Cruise ship docks in Florida
Florida's governor Ron DeSantis has called the federal judge's ruling a "major victory." Getty Images
  • A federal judge has ruled that the CDC's cruise ship sailing orders can no longer be enforced.

  • In the ruling, he compared the "authoritarian" rules to implementing a nationwide ban on sex because of a fear of STDs.

  • The CDC's conditional sailing orders will become "non-binding" guidelines from July 18.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

A federal judge has ruled that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can't enforce its "authoritarian" pandemic-era sailing orders against Florida cruise ships from mid-July, The Washington Post reported.

US District Judge Steven D. Merryday's ruling means that the CDC'S conditional sailing orders will become "non-binding" guidelines for Florida ships, instead of stringent requirements, from July 18.

Merryday ruled that the CDC did not satisfactorily justify its cruise safety rules, comparing halting voyages to the hypothetical situation of banning sexual intercourse across the US because of the fear of STDs.

"One is left to wonder, given the persistent risk of transmission of a communicable disease... whether the director of CDC could have - or, perhaps, should have - generally shut down sexual intercourse in the United States," Merryday wrote.

He added that a ban on sex to reduce "zero" the transmission of "AIDS or syphilis or herpes" would not be politically prudent or enforceable.

Merryday said that the shutdown of Florida's cruise industry by the CDC was "breathtaking, unprecedented, and acutely and singularly authoritarian."

The CDC has until July 2 to propose a "narrower" set of guidelines to "safeguard the public's health," the ruling added.

Florida's governor Ron DeSantis, who has been in a standoff with the CDC over COVID-19 vaccine requirements since last year, has hailed the ruling as a "major victory."

"The CDC has been wrong all along, and they knew it," he said in a statement. "Today, we are securing this victory for Florida families, for the cruise industry, and for every state that wants to preserve its rights in the face of unprecedented federal overreach."

Read more: Baby boomers, desperate to travel, are booking lavish getaways, month-long stays in villas, and exotic cruises

The preliminary injunction against the CDC resulted from a successful lawsuit filed by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody to halt the conditional sailing orders, which Moody argued exceed the public health agency's authority and would cause "irreparable injury" to Florida's economy.

No cruises have left US ports with passengers since March 2020. After cruise ships around the world became "superspreaders" at the start of the pandemic, leaving passengers infected, dead, or stranded, the CDC's no-sail order stopped all voyages nationwide.

This was replaced by the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) and the framework for "trial" voyages, Insider's Brittany Chang reported. According to an updated framework, cruise companies could bypass the simulated voyages if 95 percent of passengers and crew were fully vaccinated.

The first CDC-approved fully-vaccinated cruise is due to set to sail on June 26 from Florida.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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