Alaska has joined Florida in a lawsuit the states are filing against the US federal government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) policy that is preventing cruises from resuming during the Covid-19 pandemic
Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy announced the US state would join the lawsuit, which is challenging the CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order on the grounds the federal order goes beyond the scope of the CDC’s legal authority.
A statement from the Alaska governor’s office claimed the Conditional Sailing Order also fails to recognise the cruise industry’s voluntary safety measures and the safe resumption of cruising in other countries. Over 400,000 passengers have returned to cruising in nearly a dozen other countries, resulting in less than 50 confirmed cases of Covid-19, Alaska’s statement said.
The state also cited the "high vaccination rate of Alaskans, the effectiveness of the vaccines against Covid-19, and the low Covid-19 hospitalisation rates in Alaska" as rationales for a resumption of cruise travel.
"CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order treats the cruise industry, and the jobs and businesses that depend on tourism, differently from other travel sectors like air or rail. The Order also requires expensive and time-consuming ’trials’ for ships before they could return to service. But as it has shown in other countries, the cruise industry knows how to protect passengers, crew, and port communities," the Alaska statement said.
“Alaska has urged the CDC to withdraw or amend its Conditional Sailing Order to allow for a cruise season in Alaska. Alaskan families and small businesses need fast action to protect their ability to work and provide for their families. We have been told to follow the science and facts. Cruise ships have demonstrated their ability to provide for the safety of passengers and crew, and Alaska has led the nation in vaccinations and low hospitalisation rates. We deserve the chance to have tourism and jobs,” Governor Dunleavy said.
“The cruise industry is vital to the economic health of Alaska. Alaska has already suffered an economic loss of US$Bn due to the cancellation of the 2020 cruise ship season, and faces another economic loss in 2021.”
“Through this lawsuit, Alaska seeks to protect its citizens and its interests by forcing the CDC to act within the limited authority Congress granted it,” said Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor. “CDC simply does not have the authority to arbitrarily shut down an entire industry.”
Florida filed its lawsuit against the CDC in US federal district court on 8 April 2021.
"Under the direction of Governor [Ron] DeSantis, Florida is suing [US President Joe Biden’s] Administration in federal district court to overturn the unlawful Conditional Sailing Order enacted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This unprecedented year-long lockdown of an entire industry by the federal government has directly harmed the State of Florida, its citizens, and their families, resulting in the loss of billions of dollars in economic activity," Florida’s governor’s office said at the time.
Florida alleges the policy is "harming the state and its citizens" by, "preventing numerous businesses and employees from earning a living", contributing to the state’s unemployment levels, "exacerbating the massive shortfalls in revenues" faced by Florida’s ports and reducing state and local taxes associated with the cruise industry.