PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. - Summer could see the return of cruises from U.S. ports, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC announced that cruises could possibly resume in mid-July, ending a months-long 'No Sail' order.
"We acknowledge that cruising will never be a zero-risk activity and that the goal of the CSO’s phased approach is to resume passenger operations in a way that mitigates the risk of COVID-19 transmission onboard cruise ships and across port communities," Aimee Treffiletti, head of the Maritime Unit for CDC’s COVID-19 response within its Global Mitigation Task Force for COVID-19, said in the letter obtained by USA Today.
According to the publication, spokesperson Caitlin Shockey said cruises could begin passenger voyages from the U.S. in mid-July, "depending on cruise lines' pace and compliance with the CDC's Framework for Conditional Sailing Order."
In a statement to FOX 35 News, the CDC said:
"CDC remains committed to the resumption of passenger operations in the United States following the requirements in the CSO by mid-summer, which aligns with the goals announced by many major cruise lines and travelers. CDC looks forward to continued engagement with the industry and urges cruise lines to submit Phase 2A port agreements as soon as possible to maintain the timeline of passenger voyages by mid-July."
It has been more than a year since cruises stopped sailing in U.S. waters due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Several conditions would have to be met in order for sailings to resume, according to the CDC, including the requirement for 98% of crew and 95% of passengers being fully vaccinated.
The CDC announced five key clarifications with the existing Conditional Sailing order framework:
- Vaccinations: Ships may now bypass simulated voyages and move directly to open water sailing with passengers if a ship attests that 98 percent of its crew and 95 percent of its passengers are fully vaccinated.
- 60 Day Waiting Period: CDC announced that it would review and respond to applications for simulated voyages within 5 days, down from the anticipated 60 day waiting period. This puts cruise ships closer to open water sailing sooner.
- Testing: CDC will update its testing and quarantine requirements for passengers and crew to closely align with CDC’s guidance for fully vaccinated persons. Fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to undergo NAAT testing, they may now take a simple viral test (NAA or antigen) upon embarkation. This testing change is for the restricted revenue sailings in Phase 4 of the CSO.
- Port Agreements: CDC clarified that cruise ship operators may enter into a multi-port agreement (as opposed to a single port agreement) provided that relevant port and local health authorities are signatories to the agreement. Such multi-port agreements may be particularly suitable if one port has limited medical or housing capacity and a nearby port is able to supplement these capacities.
- Quarantine Housing: CDC clarified guidance on ventilation systems and the ability for local passengers to quarantine at home if they are within driving distance.
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