Cruise Lines International Association, which represents 95% of the cruise industry, introduced mandatory requirements to be able to set sail again.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a Level 4 travel notice on Saturday advising that “all people” should avoid travel on cruise ships worldwide because “the risk of COVID-19 on cruise ships is very high.”
“Cruise passengers are at increased risk of person-to-person spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19, and outbreaks of COVID-19 have been reported on cruise ships,” the organization said on its website.
The CDC added that for passengers who may be considered at increased risk, the warning is “especially” applicable.
“Passengers who decide to go on a cruise should get tested 3-5 days after your trip AND stay home for 7 days after travel,” the CDC said. “Even if you test negative, stay home for the full 7 days.”
For passengers who don’t get tested, the CDC recommended staying home for 14 days.
A similar update was issued Saturday for international air travel, recommending that Americans who are choosing to fly out of the country get tested before and after traveling: “1-3 days before your flight” and again “3-5 days after travel.” Even those who test negative upon return should stay home for seven days; 14 for those who do not get tested.
“Air travel requires spending time in security lines and airport terminals, which can bring you in close contact with other people and frequently touched surfaces,” the CDC said. “Social distancing is difficult in busy airports and on crowded flights, and sitting within 6 feet of others, sometimes for hours, may increase your risk of getting COVID-19. How you get to and from the airport, such as with public transportation and ridesharing, can also increase your chances of being exposed to the virus.”
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The travel notice that originally warned against cruising was posted on March 17. On Oct. 8, the CDC instituted a Level 3 warning that recommended people “defer travel” on cruise ships worldwide.
On Oct. 30, the CDC issued a “conditional sailing order” that replaced its “no-sail” order and allowed a phased-in restart of cruising in U.S. waters. That order didn’t specify when passenger cruising could restart on vessels able to carry 250 or more people and required ships to meet certain standards and complete activities such as test cruises.
“This ‘Framework of Conditional Sailing’ lays out a pathway – a phased, deliberate and intentional pathway – toward resuming passenger services but only when it is safe, when (the cruise industry) can assure health and when they are responsible with respects of needs of crew passengers and port communities,” Dr. Martin Cetron, director of the CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, told USA TODAY.
This month, the cruise industry extended its voluntary operational pause through the end of the year.
“We share a common goal with the CDC, which is to protect the public health of our passengers, crew and destinations,” Bari Golin-Blaugrund, vice president of strategic communications for Cruise Lines International Association, the industry’s leading trade organization, told USA TODAY Sunday. “We will continue to work with the CDC to establish a pathway to resumption in the U.S.”
In order to meet the CDC’s “conditional sailing order,” several cruise lines, including Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises and Holland America Line, have already opted to further extend their own sailing suspensions. Carnival has canceled all sailings in U.S. waters until February 2021, and Princess and Holland America have canceled sailings across the globe until April 2021.
At the time the order was announced, Cetron wasn’t prepared to guess when passenger cruising will actually begin.
“I’m smart enough after 10 months of this pandemic not to speculate like that,” he said. “It’s basically the virus’ numbers against human ingenuity.”
While it appears that cruising’s return isn’t imminent in U.S. waters, per the “conditional sailing order,” members of Congress have called for the CDC to reinstate its “no-sail” order.
Contributing: Hannah Yasharoff
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