Rick Scott Continues to Push the Federal Government on Letting Cruise Ships Sail Again

This week, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., continued to press the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to offer more guidance on when cruise ships can sail again.

“Our cruise lines have waited months for updated guidance from the CDC, while so many other industries were able to reopen safely. While the CDC finally released some updated guidance for this important industry, they still haven’t answered my call to provide the cruise line industry with a timeline of when they can begin sailing, which is urgently needed,” Scott said.

Scott pointed to the important role the cruise industry has in the Sunshine State.

“The cruise industry is critical to the success of Florida’s economy, as well as other states, and should be able to safely resume operations. This is about more than one industry, it’s about our ports, our restaurants, and an entire economic chain throughout the United States with thousands of jobs on the line. The cruise industry, and the communities that rely on it, deserve a clear timeline from the CDC on when they can resume operations. I’ll continue working with my colleagues on real solutions to bring back our cruise industry safely,” Scott said.

Scott and other elected officials across Florida have been pushing the federal government on the matter.

At a round table event last month in Port Canaveral, Gov. Ron DeSantis called on the CDC to rescind its no-sail order which, as of now, looks to be in place until November 1.

“The federal government has provided guidance to all other passenger transportation modes and other industries; however, it has failed to issue guidance for the cruise industry to assist in its recovery,” the governor’s office noted. “In addition to the lack of guidance, the federal government has neglected to provide relief funding to seaports while airports and transit agencies have received assistance through previous relief packages. Earlier this month, Governor DeSantis recommended Florida’s seaports receive $258.2 million out of the state’s share of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, to account for the losses accrued due to the no-sail order.”

“If there is one thing we’ve learned over the past year, it’s that lockdowns don’t work, and Floridians deserve the right to earn a living,” said DeSantis. “The cruise industry is essential to our state’s economy and keeping it shut down until November would be devastating to the men and women who rely on the cruise lines to provide for themselves and their families. I urge the CDC to immediately rescind this baseless no-sail order to allow Floridians in this industry to get back to work.”

“It’s anchors aweigh for almost every travel industry in the U.S., yet the Biden administration is keeping our cruise liners docked—while many other major countries begin to operate cruises safely under health guidelines. The rationale for keeping U.S. cruises shuttered through the foreseeable future is based on outdated data and guidelines put in place before we had a COVID-19 vaccine,” said state Attorney General Ashley Moody who also took part in the roundtable. “The federal government is acting outside its authority in singling out and docking the cruise industry while other tourism-based businesses continue to operate in accordance with health guidelines. This heavy-handed federal overreach is harming our nation’s economy and is especially damaging to Florida’s economy and our vital tourism industry. That is why we are calling on the Biden administration to lift the outdated lockdown order on Florida’s cruise industry and allow workers who rely on this important industry to get back to work.”

“Under Governor DeSantis’ leadership, the state continues to make key investments in our transportation system, but, because of the CDC’s no-sail order, the cruise industry is still struggling,” said Florida Department of Transportation Sec. Kevin Thibault. “The governor and the state continue to do all that we can to help these members of our communities regain their livelihoods and we hope our federal counterparts follow suit.”

The governor’s office pointed to the economic damage suffered by the cruise industry during the pandemic in the Sunshine State.

“On March 14, the nation marked its one-year anniversary of the CDC’s no-sail order. A September 2020 report from the Federal Maritime Commission estimated that during the first 6 months of the pandemic, losses in Florida due to the cruise industry shutdown totaled $3.2 billion in economic activity, including 49,500 jobs paying $2.3 billion in wages. In addition, Florida saw wide-ranging indirect impacts throughout the state – from airports and ground transportation to hotels, restaurants, and tourist destinations,” the governor’s office noted. “The COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on the cruise industry are part of a larger struggle facing the entire travel industry, which ended 2020 with $1.1 trillion in losses, a 42 percent drop from 2019.”

Also last month, Republicans in the Florida delegation–including Scott, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis, Mario Diaz-Balart, Carlos Gimenez, Bill Posey, John Rutherford, Maria Elvira Salazar and Michael Waltz–sent a letter to Jeffrey Zients, the White House COVID Response Coordinator, calling on the Biden administration to offer more guidance so cruises can resume operations.

 

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

 

KEVIN DERBY
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