Alaska joins Florida lawsuit against CDC over US cruise restrictions

Morgan Hines

Alaska will join Florida in taking legal action against the federal government and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to try to hasten the restart of cruising as the industry remains shut down in U.S. waters amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced the decision on Tuesday. “We deserve the chance to have tourism and jobs,” Dunleavy said in the announcement. “The cruise industry is vital to the economic health of Alaska. Alaska has already suffered an economic loss of $3 billion due to the cancellation of the 2020 cruise ship season, and faces another (unnecessary) economic loss in 2021.”

"The @CDCgov's arbitrary decision to stop cruise ships placed Alaska businesses & communities in jeopardy," Dunleavy wrote in a tweet. "Today, Alaska has joined Florida in legal action to stop these destructive policies."

The lawsuit goes up against the health agency's "job-killing" shutdown of the cruise industry on the grounds that the shutdown is outside of the CDC's legal authority, according to the announcement.

The CDC's Conditional Sailing Order, according to the announcement, also fails to recognize the cruise industry's voluntary safety measures and that cruising has resumed safely in other parts of the world. Earlier this month, the CDC provided additional guidance for a phased resumption but offered no clear timeline for when sailing could actually restart.

And, the announcement continued, the order doesn't take into account the high vaccination rate of Alaskans. According to USA TODAY's COVID vaccine tracker, 40% of Alaska residents have received at least one shot, and 33% are fully vaccinated as of Wednesday.

“Through this lawsuit, Alaska seeks to protect its citizens and its interests by forcing the CDC to act within the limited authority Congress granted it,” Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor said in the announcement. “CDC simply does not have the authority to arbitrarily shut down an entire industry.” 

USA TODAY has reached out to the CDC.

Florida sues CDC:Over cruising as timeline to get cruise ships back in US waters remains unclear