The promise had been made last week. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis would support the cruise industry in its quest to return to operating in the United States. And this Thursday he announced a concrete action. The state of Florida filed a lawsuit against the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and against the federal government, demanding that their navigation with passengers in the country be authorized.
“The industry does not need a bureaucrat to decide whether or not it is safe for travelers. People have the right to decide for themselves, ”said the governor, who has garnered criticism and praise for his policy of economic openness in the face of the COVID 19 pandemic.
Cruise lines will be resuming their commercial activity in the coming months from international ports, including the Bahamas, Bermuda, St Marteen or Athens, in Europe. The cruise industry generates revenues of USD 9 billion a year in Florida and is among the main sources of employment for the inhabitants of cities like Miami.
DeSantis argues that the restrictions imposed by the federal government on this industry – which do not apply to other industries within tourism, such as air traffic, for example – seriously endanger the livelihoods of thousands of Floridians.
“If you are concerned about the health of Americans, know that those who want to travel on cruise ships will continue to do so, only from ports abroad“Added the Republican governor.
The news conference raised the issue of vaccine passports, which DeSantis has criticized in the past. Various industries, from entertainment to the cruise lines themselves, have stated that in the return to a post-pandemic economic activity they will require proof of vaccination to those who use their services. The Florida governor expressed his disagreement.
“We all have the right to live our lives, to go on a cruise or to a movie theater. I don’t see the need to have a vaccination passport for it. If it’s something that worries you, go ahead and do it. Get vaccinated, but it is your choice to do so ”, indicated DeSantis, who signed a decree last week that prohibits private companies in Florida from requiring proof of vaccination.
From the other side of the debate, they argue that if only a minority of the population decides to be vaccinated, the much-talked about herd immunity will never be achieved, necessary to end the pandemic. But DeSantis’s argument about the need to let the decision be personal often generates support among conservative and libertarian groups in the United States. Despite opposition to a mandatory vaccination, the DeSantis administration has taken various steps to ensure that vaccination in Florida is accessible to all residents, removing age restrictions as in other states as of Monday.
The lawsuit and the governor’s words come the same week that the CDC announced its new recommendations for the cruise industry, in which they speak of the need to vaccinate all personnel on board, as well as require vaccines to all passengers . The large cruise companies operating in the United States – Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegian, among them – developed their own plans that also include a vaccination request..
“Vaccination against COVID 19 will be critical for cruise ships to reestablish normal operations. The more people are vaccinated, the more confidence we will have in the CDC to recommend the return to the cruises ”, indicated in a press release the authorities of the health agencies.
The CDC’s order prohibiting passenger travel on cruise ships is in effect from March 1, 2020 and lasts until November 1, 2021, but there is no indication that it cannot be canceled earlier.