The lifting of a U.S.no-sail order, which has been in place since March, will boost the optimism of cruise companies. But the leading U.S. medical watchdog is still recommending that people defer travel on both river and ocean cruise ships worldwide and take other precautions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday issued a framework for a phased resumption of cruise ship operations after a no-sail order issued in March in response to the coronavirus pandemic expires on Saturday.
The CDC said it was requiring testing and additional safeguards for crew members. A U.S. House of Representatives committee is investigating if the White House blocked the CDC from extending the no-sail order through mid-February.
The no-sail order issued in March came amid a rising number of coronavirus cases on cruise ships. On Friday, shares of major cruise lines Carnival Corp, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean Cruises jumped following the CDC order.
“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 operations,” the CDC said,
The CDC said in a Sept. 30 order that “cruise ships continue to be an unsafe environment with close quarters where the disease spreads easily and is not readily detected.”
Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, who chairs a House subcommittee on maritime transportation, in a letter to the CDC warned of the dangers of cruise ships amid the pandemic. “The insidious nature of COVID-19 and the physical infrastructure constraints on cruise ships makes containing potential outbreaks onboard these ships an incredibly difficult task even with the best practices and procedures in place,” Maloney wrote.
The CDC said earlier that from March 1 through Sept. 28, data showed “a total of 3,689 confirmed cases of COVID-19 or COVID-like illness cases on cruise ships and 41 deaths.”
In contrast, Canada has extended a temporary ban of cruise ships with more than 100 overnight guests in Canadian waters until Feb. 28.
Copyright (2020) Thomson Reuters.
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Photo credit: A Tortola shore excursion, with Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas in port. Royal Caribbean