On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., introduced a proposal to coordinate how the cruise line industry resumes business after the coronavirus pandemic.
With the support of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Scott brought out the “Set Sail Safely Act,” which, according to the senator’s office, “will establish a Maritime Task Force, in coordination with a Private Sector Advisory Committee, to address the health, safety, security, and logistical changes needed to allow for cruise lines and ports to resume operations.” As of now, cruise ships remain under a No Sail Order until the end of September.
Scott offered some of the reasons why he introduced the proposal.
“Florida is a tourism state with thousands of jobs relying on the success of our ports, cruise lines and maritime industries,” Scott said on Wednesday. “Over the past few months, I’ve had many conversations with leaders at Florida ports, federal agencies, and within the cruise industry about how to ensure the safety of passengers and employees. As we work to solve the coronavirus and safely reopen our economy, this legislation will support the development of guidelines needed to ensure the safe resumption of our cruise lines and port operations. I will continue to work with Floridians, industry and federal leaders to safely bring back this industry, which is important to our state’s economic success.”
“The cruise and maritime industries are vital to the prosperity of our state’s economy, and securing guidance for safely resuming operations is a top priority of mine. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve been working with the Administration, officials from the state, and industry leaders to identify ways to mitigate risk in hopes of an eventual return to business. I am proud to join Senator Scott in introducing legislation that will provide a roadmap for cruise lines and port authorities to safely resume operations, allowing our valuable tourism economy, and the people it employs, to begin to recover,” Rubio said.
The bill has the support of the Cruise Lines International Association, the American Association of Port Authorities and the Florida Ports Council.
“Senator Scott’s leadership on this important issue illustrates his continued recognition of Florida’s seaports as economic drivers for the state. We welcome the opportunity to engage in strategic discussions with our federal and industry partners to develop a plan for the safe resumption of passenger operations at Florida’s seaports,” said Doug Wheeler, the president and CEO of the Florida Ports Council.
The bill also has support in South Florida including from Miami Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who is the Republican challenging U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, D-Fla., in November, from Miami-Dade Tourism and the Ports Committee Chairwoman Rebeca Sosa and from Juan Kuryla, the director and CEO of PortMiami.
“We are extremely grateful for the introduction of the Set Sail Safely Act sponsored by Senator Rick Scott. The importance of the cruise industry across the U.S. and throughout Florida is being felt every day the cruise ships are not in operations. Thousands of jobs have vanished and millions of dollars are lost. We welcome Senator Scott’s initiative, and stand ready to work with him,” Kuryla said.
Scott’s bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. So far, there is no companion measure over in the U.S. House.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.