Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis, fought the law and won a victory for his state over vaccination disclosure mandates with the CDC for cruise passengers.
If you are considering booking travel or signing up for a new credit card please click here. Both support LiveAndLetsFly.com.
If you haven’t followed us on Facebook or Instagram, add us today.
DeSantis, CDC Go Head-to-Head
It was just three weeks ago that Florida Governor, Ron Desantis, signed SB 2006 into law. Florida legislature approved the measure that prohibited any business from requiring a customer to disclose their vaccination status; businesses that violate the statute would be subject to a $5000 fine per incident.
This caused a problem for cruise lines who are desperate to get sailing again. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a no sail order for cruises touching US ports in March of 2020. Cruise ships were particularly difficult places for COVID due to the many touchpoints, close proximity, and thus easy spread of the disease. The Diamond Princess was one of the first and most significant cases informing the decision, with nearly 20% of all passengers and crew (712 of 3,711) becoming infected; 14 died.
However, the cruise lines, the Federal government and the CDC in particular acknowledge that we are a long way from Diamond Princess and issued a conditional sailing order that allowed Royal Caribbean (RCL) to take passengers back to the water. The order came with a stipulation: 95% of passengers and crew must be vaccinated. This left RCL with a conundrum. How could RCL comply with the state of Florida and SB 2006 without paying $5,000/incident (presumed to be anyone and everyone they required to disclose status of vaccination) but also prove to the CDC that it had complied with its mandate as well?
As with many matters of disagreement in the United States, the two parties sat down at a table and reached a mutual agreement like civilized leaders. the matter went to court.
The result of the ruling was claimed as a major victory by the Governor. Judge Steven Merryday ruled on June 18, 2021 that the CDC cannot enforce its vaccination requirement on cruise ships serving the state from July 18, 2021 onward. Once DeSantis received the news of his victory he humbly said this,
“The CDC has been wrong all along, and they knew it,” DeSantis said in a statement, claiming the agency was trying to “sink” Florida’s cruise industry industry, per the Washington Post. – The Guardian
The judge essentially de-fanged the CDC order to a suggestion:
“Merriday’s decision means that the CDC’s “conditional sailing order” will merely be a “non-binding ‘consideration,’ ‘recommendation’ or ‘guideline’” when it comes to Florida cruises that set sail from 18 July.” – The Guardian
Following this decision, it is likely that most ships will quickly return to active duty without the concern of upsetting law enforcement.
Good For Florida
The cruise industry has a safe and secure home in Florida. Most of the cruise lines have their headquarters in the “Capital of the Americas,” Miami. The industry has heavily laid infrastructure in southern Florida, and had the judge stayed the CDC order as written for a further extended period of time, it’s possible that those ships would have set up shop in other ports.
Beyond the cruise ships themselves, the economy is built around cruising. Restaurants, taxis, hotels, and airlines would have suffered. It’s possible that other states might have made a play for becoming a more permanent home.
Good For Alternative States Too
But wait, there’s more.
Those who want to be absolutely certain everyone onboard is vaccinated may have an alternative option now. States where vaccination status disclosure is not a crime may market themselves as a safer way to sail for those interested. Cruisers who want to be certain on the matter, could sail from California down the Baja coast on vaccinated-only trips. This may lead to a specific marketshare for customers that aren’t interested in Florida’s “can’t ask” policy.
There had to be an outcome quickly in this case for the sake of the cruise industry more broadly. It’s simply impossible to run a business whereby one government agency states you must assure the passengers are vaccinated and another says it’s illegal to ask. Regardless of any specific feelings with respect to whether Florida or the CDC was right, the industry has to rejoice at a clear path forward.
What do you think? How should the judge have ruled? Is this a win for other states too?
*Note: A previous version of this post mentioned that DeSantis had been a “Bronze Star Medal winner.” A commenter (Mike) pointed out that while he may hold the medal (as is listed on the Governor’s bio) it may not indicate the correct outcome as I originally typed it. As such, I have removed it and added this note. I have no intention of assigning nor removing medals of valor simply due to ignorance about how and when it is awarded.
I have no problem cruising with the un-vaccinated, so long as they don’t leave their cabins for the duration of the cruise!
I’m amazed at how hard the vaccine has been pushed upon us with the indication that it is very effective. Yet those who get vaccinated are afraid of being around those who haven’t been vaccinated yet.
One big reason those of us who are vaccinated are afraid to be around the unvaccinated is that although we are pretty much guaranteed to be safe, we still can get a low grade infection that won’t really hurt us and spread it to the unvaccinated. I don’t want to do that to others, especially others in my life that are vaccine resistant due to transplants/other immunodeficiency issues like lupus. The vaccines we have right now only protect the vaccined.
I think the one caveat that needs to be added is for those who have the antibodies. I have had the antibodies for over a year and while it doesn’t guarantee they will remain indefinitely, the antibodies are proven to be more effective than the vaccine. If a person is not vaccinated but has the vaccine they are a lower risk to others and themselves due to higher efficacy. If a vaccine or antibodies test were treated equally it would make more sense scientifically than accepting only the vaccine. It would also open up the cruise lines to some portion of the 30 million that have had COVID in the US but recovered (some of which will have gotten the vaccine, some who have not.)
You won’t have so much immunity against the newer strains, like b1572. (Just saying.)
The issue isn’t whether or not someone is vaccinated. The concern is COVID19 infections at sea, could lead to a ship going into a lockdown and/or possibly being denied entry into other countries.
This could led to a miserable vacation and quite frankly, one longer than you intended to take.
The reality is most countries on cruise itineraries do not have the vaccines, testing or infrastructure to deal with local outbreaks started by tourists.
As a Florida resident I generally think DeSantis is doing a great job. However I think he missed the boat on this one. I love cruising and have no problem with the cruise line stating you must be vaccinated prior to getting on board. If you don’t like that decision you don’t have to go. In light of millions of deaths I don’t think that’s an on reasonable expectation or request
So you think 40,000 dead is doing a good job? Wonder what a bad job would look like?
The solution is simple – Charge those who refuse to voluntarily show proof of vaccination an extra $1000 per person and require them to wear a mask everywhere onboard including when in the pool and on the sun deck etc.
The fools who refuse to get the shot will soon wise up or not sail!
That would be illegal in Florida, that’s what SB 2006 prevents and the court decision confirms following the challenge.
I don’t think so. They are not forced to show proof only asked to volunteer to do so. If they don’t volunteer it will cost them.
@ Rene – Fair point, voluntary is voluntary. But do you not think that would open up RCL to litigation for price discrimination – not necessarily by the passengers, but by the state of Florida?
Not if it’s a discount. $1000 off for anyone who wants to show their vaccination card.
@Stannis – Actually, now that I think about it, you’re right at least the way it works now. Plenty are offering incentives and have not faced legal scrutiny but it does seem like a slippery slope. What if a discount is given for particular skin color, sexual preference, political party, or religious belief? If it’s a discount, it’s not discrimination, but if it’s a price increase it is. Seems like a precarious position, but you’re absolutely right that this complies with the current system.
You are spot on. Even without the $1000 charge just make the rule you have to wear a mask in all situations unless you want to volunteer to show vax card.
Well, if all you want to do is cruise from port to port in the US, fine. But any international port of call will have much more stringent requirements. So, how much does Florida’s law and the Court’s ruling matter?
@Sam – This isn’t categorically the case. One of the largest ports for US-departed cruise ships is Mexico which has less stringent requirements. In fact, even Europe now only requires Americans to submit a negative result for COVID-19 and not vaccination status.
Please do not highlight his Bronze Star like that. As someone in the military, a Bronze Star means nothing unless it’s a Bronze Star “with Valor”. Bronze Stars are given out to anyone as long as they have a high enough rank (usually O-4 and above) who deploy to the Middle East. By highlighting it like that, you’re putting him at the same level as those who truly earned the Bronze Star…with Valor, which according to his service records I read, he did not go out into actual combat.
@Mike – per your note I have amended his title and added a clarification at the bottom of the post. Thank you for your assistance.
He’s just the Governor…not sure why you added the Bronze Star reference. Why not also add “POC Vote Suppressor” while you are at it?
And UA-TDS is just a box jumper.
The usual leftist lies from UA-TDS. It’s racist because he disagrees with it! Black and hispanic voting rates have increased in states with voter ID laws. How in the world is requiring ID racist? Because you say it is? What benefit is there to more ballot harvesting and less ballot box security? I wonder.
Somehow these laws surgically target POCs. And are based on a fraudulent Big Lie premise. And yet you conveniently ignore that. No surprise coming from an anti-vaxxer.
What is racist, UA-NYC, is you insinuating that POC cannot obtain IDs. Are you saying they are not intelligent enough to get an ID?
More racist dribble from the party that is represented by a donkey
Jesus rode a donkey, not an elephant. For those who care about such things.
Read any of the red-state bills, and you will see voter ID is a Trojan horse to introduce a number of other measures that surgically target the POC vote…it’s really not that complicated
The Big Lie is that government is here to help you. Folx like UA-TDS actually think the New Deal and the Great Society worked. If America is so racist, why in the world would you expect the racist government to fight racism (being anti-racist is actually racist)?
However he did not win with the cruise operators. Operators are charging for all testing requirements and placing restrictions for Non-Vacs.
I’m glad a Federal judge knows more about science and medicine than scientists and doctors.