U.S. Sen. Rick Scott hailed a potential move from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to potentially greenlight the July return of domestic cruises.
The Senator, appearing on CBS Thursday morning, indicated comfort with all conditions outlined in a CDC letter to the cruise industry — including proof of full vaccination for 98% of the crew and 95% of passengers.
When asked if cruises should return under those conditions, the Senator was adamant that the ships should come back, and that CDC guidance was long overdue in his eyes.
“Absolutely! We go to hotels and amusement parks but we can’t get on a cruise line? The CDC has been missing in action for months in telling the cruise industry how to get started. So I’m glad finally the CDC is making some decisions, hopefully working with the cruise industry, but I’m not going to let up,” Scott said.
“It is unfair how the CDC has handled the cruise industry,” Scott continued to vent. “It is completely unfair. That is a lot of American jobs.”
Scott’s depiction of an “MIA” CDC may be fanciful. USA Today, which first obtained the CDC guidance letter, presents a more orderly dialogue between stakeholders and regulators, including “a month of twice-weekly meetings with cruise industry representatives. During those meetings, the industry and the health agency discussed the Conditional Sailing Order.”
Meanwhile, the Senator’s seeming acceptance of proof of vaccines as a pre-condition of cruise boarding runs contrary to the thinking of Gov. Ron DeSantis, who issued an executive order against so-called “vaccine passports” earlier this month.
“Requiring so-called COVID-19 vaccine passports for taking part in everyday life — such as attending a sporting event, patronizing a restaurant, or going to a movie theater — would create two classes of citizens based on vaccination,” the order says.
The Governor’s Office told the South Florida Sun Sentinel earlier this month that the order applies to cruise ships also, answering questions about one company’s decision to require vaccinations for passengers.
“The Governor’s Executive Order provides that businesses in Florida are prohibited from requiring patrons or customers to provide any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or post-transmission recovery to gain access to, entry upon, or service from the business,” press secretary Cody McCloud said. “Therefore, the Executive Order prohibits cruise lines from requiring vaccine passports for their Florida operations.”
The Governor has said the same thing.
“You have a right to live your life in our society. You can go to a restaurant. You can get on a cruise ship. You can go to a movie theater without the company demanding that you show them your health information,” DeSantis said in Miami on April 8. He urged people who are “concerned about that to go get vaccinated.”
Florida has sued for the resumption of cruises, but it seems the state’s position rejects the federal precondition to make that happen, meaning that this is a situation to watch.
Meanwhile, legislation banning vaccine passports is in play as the 2021 Legislative Session winds down, with the House and Senate still trying to work out language ahead of Friday’s Sine Die. There is one more day to get it done.