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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lifted its “no sail” order on U.S. cruise ships by announcing the phased resumption of cruising.
CDC stated that considering the continued spread of COVID-19 worldwide and increased risk of COVID-19 on cruise ships, a careful approach is needed to safely resume cruise ship passenger operations.
CDC is establishing requirements to mitigate the COVID-19 risk to passengers and crew, prevent the further spread of COVID-19 from cruise ships into U.S. communities, and protect public health and safety.
The initial phases will consist of testing and additional safeguards for crew members. CDC will ensure cruise ship operators have adequate health and safety protections for crew members while these cruise ship operators build the laboratory capacity needed to test future passengers. Subsequent phases will include simulated voyages to test cruise ship operators' ability to mitigate COVID-19 risk, certification for ships that meet specific requirements, and a phased return to cruise ship passenger voyages in a manner that mitigates COVID-19 risk among passengers, crew members, and U.S. communities.
These phases are subject to change based on public health considerations and cruise ship operators' demonstrated ability to mitigate COVID¬19 risk. CDC will issue additional orders as needed that will be published in the Federal Register and technical instructions that will be subsequently posted on CDC's website.
This Order additionally announces requirements for the initial phases relating to crew testing. CDC considers adequate crew safeguards as demonstrated through laboratory testing for SARS coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19, an integral part of the initial phases prior to resuming passenger operations.
Most major cruise lines have announced that they will not resume operations until 2021.
The largest cruise companies, including Carnival, Royal Caribbean and MSC have canceled their sailings through the end of November. Last month, Carnival canceled all its 2020 cruises, except for those between Miami and Port Canaveral, Fla., which are scheduled to restart in December.
The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) issues the following statement: “While it does not equate to cruises resuming immediately, the CDC’s replacement of the draconian ‘No-Sail Order’ with a framework for a phased resumption of cruise ship operations is a welcome development and a key milestone in the restart of the travel industry.
“We have petitioned the Administration and the CDC over the course of nearly six months. Our ask: guidance on how cruise lines and travelers can manage health risks while cruising.
“For too long, travel advisors, consumers and others in the industry have had to deal with the catastrophic economic consequences of the No Sail Order. ASTA views this as a positive first step and urges the CDC to work as expeditiously as possible with cruise lines, state and local public health authorities and other cruise community stakeholders to support the safe resumption of cruise operations from U.S. ports.”