Gov. Mike Dunleavy, seen here at a news conference on April 9, 2021, to promote the state's tourism industry, announced Tuesday Alaska was joining Florida's lawsuit against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for preventing cruise ship sailings. Dunleavy had said at the conference joining the suit was a possibility. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Alaska joins Florida lawsuit over cruise ship pause

Governors say cruises can sail safely

Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Tuesday joined a lawsuit against the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over the organization’s decisions to prohibit cruise ship sailings for another year.

The suit was initially filed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., on April 8, and argues the CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order exceeds the CDC jurisdiction and unfairly impacts areas where the ships typically operate.

In a video statement released Tuesday and filmed in Juneau, Dunleavy said he was joining the lawsuit to help the many Alaskan businesses that depend on the cruise ship industry.

“Alaskan families and small businesses need fast action to protect their ability to work and provide for their families,” Dunleavy said in a release. “We have been told to follow the science and facts. Cruise ships have demonstrated their ability to provide for the safety of passengers and crew, and Alaska has led the nation in vaccinations and low hospitalization rates.”

[Governor says help coming for beleaguered tourism industry]

Dunleavy said previously he was considering joining the lawsuit and has been making a push to promote Alaska’s tourism industry, which has been hit hard by COVID-19 closures. On Friday, the state announced plans to administer free COVID-19 vaccines to arriving visitors as a way to promote tourism to the state.

However, the CDC’s order is just one barrier preventing large cruise ships from sailing to Alaska.

Canada’s closure to large cruise ships means the vessels can’t reach Alaska without violating U.S. law. Alaska’s congressional delegation has entered legislation to temporarily waive that law, and the Alaska State Legislature sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging action on the issue.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.

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