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Gov. Ron DeSantis Announces Lawsuit Against Feds, CDC To Reopen Cruise Ship Industry

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CBS4's Joan Murray shares the details.

Video Transcript

RON DESANTIS: That on behalf of the tens of thousands of Floridians whose livelihood depends on the viability of an open cruise industry, today Florida is fighting back.

- Right now at 5, Florida wants cruise ships to set sail again, so much so the state is filing a lawsuit against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the federal government. Cruise ships have not set sail in the US for more than a year because of COVID. Other countries are allowing them again.

- The CDC hasn't said when cruises can start up again in the US, but the industry is hoping for summer cruises. CBS 4's Joan Murray is at Port Miami with the details on the governor's lawsuit. Joan?

JOAN MURRAY: And it's a big question, Brooke and Elliott, when it may happen. Now here at the port, now and then, you will see cruise ships lined up, but really they just go out offshore and then come back. But the governor said today it's time for that to end and for ships to set sail for sea.

RON DESANTIS: We don't believe the federal government has the right to mothball a major industry.

JOAN MURRAY: Surrounded by port workers since cruising shut down last year, Governor Ron DeSantis says he's suing the CDC and federal government.

RON DESANTIS: Demanding that our cruise ships be reopened immediately.

JOAN MURRAY: No packed cruise ships have sailed from a US port in more than a year after coronavirus outbreaks brought sailings to a halt. Monique Lawrence, part of the cruise industry support staff at Port Miami, said she's had a hard time supporting her extended family.

MONIQUE LAWRENCE: So when I lost my job, you know, of course, you know, things got backed up in my home, as far as, like, rent and electricity and things of that nature.

JOAN MURRAY: And David Lee Bergert said he's been late on his rent as he's struggling to keep his family afloat.

DAVID LEE BERGERT: And it's hard for us to find jobs, to be unemployed. Miami is Miami. It's time to get back to work.

JOAN MURRAY: The governor said tens of thousands of cruise workers have been left high and dry, and the shutdown disproportionately affects Florida, with millions of visitors and their money traveling through Port Miami, Port Everglades, and Port Canaveral every year.

MONICA ZAPATA: We have had deaths, and sadly-- and I say sadly because it wasn't due to COVID. It was quite literally due to heartbreak.

DAVID WEINSTEIN: He's not on the boat. He's on dry land. And the boat and the people on the boat and the people who own and control the boat, they have standing.

JOAN MURRAY: But some legal experts, including former federal prosecutor David Weinstein, said the governor's chances of winning are slim.

DAVID WEINSTEIN: The government doesn't want people getting on and off cruise ships if they believe that these people could potentially be introducing either what we know is coronavirus right now or some new strain into the United States.

JOAN MURRAY: Some major cruise lines, like Royal Caribbean and Norwegian, said they will require proof of vaccination for crew and passengers on some voyages. But the governor is pushing back.

RON DESANTIS: We're not doing vaccine passports.

JOAN MURRAY: Cruising has resumed in much of the world, forcing Americans to fly to other ports, like the Bahamas and Jamaica.

JEANETTE PINEIRO: 300,000 people have cruised worldwide-- worldwide in Asia, Singapore, Italy, all these places since the pandemic started. And out of those 300,000, there have only been 50 cases of COVID.

JOAN MURRAY: And that has been the picture for the past few months, tourists, many from Florida, flocking to ports overseas to take a cruise. The governor said that means a lot of money is being lost in Florida. CDC has been standing firm, saying the cruise industry has to do more to prove that passengers will not get sick and then have a plan in place if they do become ill.

Reporting live at Port Miami, Joan Murray, CBS 4 News.

- All right, Joan, thank you.