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Judge sends Florida's lawsuit against CDC over halting cruises to mediation

Both parties must mediate no later than June 1.

A federal judge has called for a mediation between Florida and the CDC over the state's motion for a preliminary injunction in its lawsuit against the halting of cruises.

The mediation is set to happen in Tampa and both parties must mediate no later than June 1, according to the judge's order.

"It is extraordinarily important for Florida to get cruises back up and going. We look forward to a successful resolution of this case. As this case is ongoing, we cannot further at this time,” Attorney General Ashley Moody's Office told 10 Tampa Bay. 

It added that mediation is common and that the state's motion still remains under consideration for the judge to issue a ruling.

Both parties last appeared in a Tampa federal courtroom on May 12 to make arguments for their case.

Attorneys for the state of Florida argued the CDC has presented no clear set of safety guidelines and that everything is subject to change, making it difficult for the industry to meet the CDC’s expectations. It also claimed financial injury and the loss of millions of dollars in tax revenue and port fees. 

The attorney representing the federal government said cruise ships are “uniquely problematic” when compared to other hospitality industries and even with vaccines, still pose a significant risk to public health.

The CDC wants to ensure when COVID cases show up on cruise ships, they can be contained and managed on the ship. It's an effort they say the U.S. is not alone in, pointing to similar restrictions in Canada and Australia.

RELATED: District court judge set to make decision in Florida's lawsuit against CDC over halting cruises

This all began when Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the lawsuit back in April due to the impact, he says, the no sail order has on Florida's economy and the tens of thousands of Floridians who depend on the cruise industry for work.

The governor also argued the no sail order isn't stopping people from cruising but is rather driving them to other places like the Bahamas to take their vacations. 

"Instead of flying to Miami, spending money to stay in our hotels, spending money to eat in our restaurants before they get on the ship, they're going to fly to the Bahamas," DeSantis explained. ".. and they're going to get on the ships from the Bahamas and they're going to spend the money in the Bahamas."

RELATED: Florida files lawsuit against Biden administration, CDC demanding reopening of cruise industry

With the flick of his pen, the governor also banned companies from requiring people to show proof of inoculations in Florida, most commonly known as "vaccine passports."

But the decision has the governor at odds with some cruise line companies and the latest guidance from the CDC asking for cruise lines to show that 98 percent of the crew and 95 percent of passengers are vaccinated. 

The guidance would allow cruise ships to sail as early as July.

According to research from the Cruise Lines International Association, 85 percent of passengers say they've already started the vaccination process or are planning on getting vaccinated. Another 10 percent say they would get vaccinated just to get on a cruise even if they didn't intend to get the shot.

You can read the state's lawsuit in its entirety here.

10 Tampa Bay has reached out to the CDC for comment. This story will be updated as we hear back.

RELATED: Law experts: It's legal for cruise lines to ask for proof of vaccination, even if they sail in Florida

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