Texas files to join Florida lawsuit against CDC over cruise order

·2 min read

Another state with a significant cruise port wants to join Florida’s lawsuit against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with Texas now seeking to end the CDC’s conditional sail order with the goal of getting the cruise industry up and running as soon as possible.

Currently all major cruise lines cannot sail from U.S. ports until they have received certification under the CDC order, which requires an array of COVID-19 safety protocols as well as the completion of a simulated sailing, or a commitment that most of its crew and passengers will be vaccinated.

The state of Texas filed a motion in the federal civil case on Thursday, the same day the CDC released guidelines on how cruise lines can apply for and take the required simulated sailings.

The order, though, imposes timetables that could translate to no ship getting approval to sail for another 90 days - 30 days before it can take the test sailing, and then another 60 days before getting a certificate. The CDC, though, has stated in the last week that it expects approvals could be obtained for ships by mid-July.

Florida filed the lawsuit on April 8 and Alaska joined the suit at the end of April.

Texas’ motion cites that it should be allowed to join the suit since the pandemic and cruise industry shutdown affect it and Florida differently.

“While Texas’ and Florida’s interests align closely, and raise common questions of fact and law, their interests are not identical,” the motion states.

Its lone port that services large cruise ships, Galveston, saw 1.1 million passengers in 2019 and accounted for 8% of U.S. embarkations before the pandemic, according to the filing. The economic impact also reaches inland to Texas’ oil interests. The filing estimates the shutdown has through direct and related businesses such as hotels and oil suppliers affected 29,600 jobs and $1.8 billion in income in 2019 in the state.

Florida’s Port Canaveral, PortMiami and Port Everglades take up the lion’s share of U.S. and even global sailings, with about 60% of all embarkations coming from the three ports. Florida’s filing estimates it affects nearly 160,000 jobs in the state, and in 2019 the industry generated $8.1 billion in income.

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