(The Center Square) — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a motion on Thursday to join Florida’s lawsuit against the ongoing sailing orders issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which have prevented cruise lines from restarting business.
The cruise industry has been hit hard by the pandemic over the past year and many areas that rely on tourism like Texas and Florida are pushing for cruise lines to reopen operations citing unlawful orders that have harmed businesses.
Florida filed a lawsuit in April against the CDC’s prolonged economic shutdown and asked a federal judge to overturn the sailing order that is preventing the industry from reopening. Alaska joined the suit last month due to the state’s heavy reliance on tourism.
Texas requested to join the litigation in support of Florida, citing constitutional concerns and state sovereignty.
“The pandemic showed us that the need for stable and predictable law has never been greater. Government policy should not have the ability to destroy industries and eliminate workforces with the stroke of a pen,” Paxton said in a statement. “The cruise industry needs clearly defined expectations for safe operations and protection from baseless COVID-related claims while the country is reaching new vaccination records.”
The Port of Galveston is the fourth largest cruise port in the country, and Florida’s ports in Miami and Cape Canaveral were the busiest in the world before most travel was shut down due to the pandemic.
The CDC updated cruise ship guidelines for reopening later Thursday. The CDC says they are aiming to have the industry back in business by mid-summer, however, the lawsuit is pushing for sooner action.
“Unfortunately, government policy has not always kept pace with medical advancement against the pandemic. The resulting prolonged economic shutdown has left many people—and, in some cases, entire industries—facing financial ruin,” the motion states.
Businesses in Texas received $816 million in spending related to cruise industry tourism in 2019, according to Paxton's office.