GOP senators introduce CRUISE Act to jumpstart post-COVID cruise operations

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Republican Sens. Rick Scott and Marco Rubio of Florida, as well as Dan Sullivan of Alaska, on Tuesday introduced legislation to jumpstart cruise operations as COVID-19 cases start to dwindle and travel resumes.

The Careful Resumption Under Improved Safety Enhancements (CRUISE) Act would revoke the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's "No Sail Order," signed in March, which prevents passengers from embarking on cruise ships in an effort to contain the virus. 

"Florida is a tourism state with thousands of jobs relying on the success of our ports, cruise lines and maritime industries. While many sectors of the economy have been safely operating for months under CDC guidelines, Floridians, and those across the nation that rely on the cruise industry for work, continue to wait for updated guidance from the CDC," Scott said in a statement.

FILE – In this Saturday, April 4, 2020, file photo, Carnival cruise line ship Carnival Magic is docked at Port Canaveral, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

He added that the "CDC's refusal to properly address this shutdown is wrong and it’s time to get the cruise lines open safely."

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The CDC in October issued an initial framework for the "phased resumption" of cruise operations in the U.S., though the agency extended its "No Sail Order" to Nov. 1.

Rubio sent a letter to White House COVID-19 Response Director Jeffrey Zients in March regarding cruise operations, but the CDC has yet to respond, according to a press release.

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"The benefits of cruise operations are integral to the economies of Florida’s port cities," Rubio said in a statement. "Floridians and many other Americans who are employed by ports, cruise operators, or work in hospitality jobs near cruise terminals face an uncertain future because of the CDC’s unresponsiveness to requests for guidance by stakeholder groups."

Sullivan noted that the cruise line industry did not receive as much federal assistance as the airline and rail industries.

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"As a result, potential cruises this summer, when the president said the country will be able to return to normal with more and more Americans getting vaccinated, have been left adrift," the Alaska senator said. "The foot-dragging, mixed messages, and unresponsiveness of CDC leaders is totally unacceptable and ultimately endangering the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Americans and the hundreds of small businesses across Alaska that rely on the tourism sector." 

Republican Florida Rep. María Elvira Salazar introduced the House version of the bill on April 9.

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