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Appeals court reverses decision, CDC cruise rules are no longer binding in Florida

PHOTO: LISA SETRINI-ESPINOSA/FREEIMAGES CRUISE_US_flag.jpg
In a surprising turn of events, a federal appeals court vacated its July 17 order, handing Florida a temporary win in its battle with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over COVID-19 cruise restrictions.

The US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit on Friday vacated its order granting the CDC a stay of a lower court's decision.

Judge Merryday's order stands

Therefore, US District Judge Steven Merryday's June 18 ruling overturning the conditional sailing order is in effect and the CSO is now a non-binding 'consideration,' 'recommendation' or 'guideline' instead of a requirement.

The appeals panel denied the CDC's motion to stay Merryday's order because the appellants failed to meet the required standards.

The decision was 'sua sponte,' meaning it didn't result from further petition by any party. 

Legal experts speculated that the court initially issued its stay because of the impending July 18 deadline for the order to become effective. Then, upon further reflection and analysis, the panel decided not to stay the lower court's decision, pending the appeal.

CDC appeal will continue

The CDC's appeal will continue in its normal course. However, in the meantime, Merryday's order remains in effect.

Does this mean any immediate change in cruise line COVID-19 protocols?

Earlier, a cruise industry operations expert told Seatrade Cruise News that regardless of the decision in the Florida case, lines would probably stick to the CDC policies because 'the results have been positive so far, and keeping these policies in place will reassure the public cruising is safe.' 

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