TAMPA, Fla. — A federal judge in Florida gave the state a victory over the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but it's not immediately enforceable as the judge stayed the state's injunction.
In the case, Florida targeted the CDC over it’s no-sail and conditional sailing orders. The state claimed the orders harmed the state’s economy among other claims, including that the conditional order exceeded the CDC’s “statutory and regulatory authority.”
Federal Judge Steven Merryday agreed with Florida’s claims, saying, “Florida is highly likely to prevail on the merits of the claim…exceed the authority delegated to CDC,” and granted the state a preliminary injunction against the CDC. Judge Merryday said the CDC was prevented from “enforcing against a cruise ship arriving in, within, or departing from a port in Florida the conditional sailing order and the later measures (technical guidelines, manuals, and the like).”
However, in the next sentence, Judge Merryday put an immediate stay on his ruling until 12:01 a.m. on July 18, 2021. At that point, “the conditional sailing order and the measures promulgated under the conditional sailing order will persist as only a non-binding “consideration,” “recommendation” or “guideline,” the same tools used by CDC when addressing the practices in other similarly situated industries, such as airlines, railroads, hotels, casinos, sports venues, buses, subways, and others.”
Judge Merryday’s order also took time to give the CDC a chance to revise their rules and narrow the preliminary injunction. The CDC has until July 2 to propose a narrower injunction. However, the CDC’s injunction, per Judge Merryday, must be supported by “current scientific evidence and fully disclose…scientific evidence, including methodology, raw data, analysis, and the like and the names and qualifications of the scientists participating in the study, modeling or the like.”
If the CDC responds by July 2, Florida will have a week to file a response.
The judge said if overall circumstances “materially change at any time,” either side can request a hearing to modify the injunction. Finally, Judge Merryday ordered both sides back to mediation.
“The federal government does not, nor should it ever, have the authority to single out and lock down an entire industry indefinitely,” Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said. “I am excited to see the cruise industry get sailing again, and proud to stand with Governor Ron DeSantis against illegal federal overreach and draconian lockdown measures.”