When cruise lines begin sailing again, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has some guidance. The health agency issued their “framework for resuming safe and responsible cruise ship” operations Friday, ahead of the no-sail order expiring Saturday.
The no-sail order, which originally began in April, prohibits cruise ships from carrying 250 passengers in waters subject to US jurisdiction.
The CDC said it has identified at least 3,689 coronavirus-related illnesses, and 41 associated deaths, connected to cruise ships. Although the CDC cautions these figures are likely an underestimate.
The framework urges a phased approach, and applies to ships that have the capacity to carry at least 250 passengers in waters subject to U.S. jurisdiction.
“A phased approach is necessary because of the continued spread of the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide, risk of resurgence in countries that have suppressed transmission, ongoing concerns related to restarting of cruising internationally, and need for additional time for the cruise industry to test the effectiveness of measures to control potential COVID-19 transmission on board cruise ships with passengers without burdening public health,” a statement from the CDC reads.
During the beginning, cruise line operators will have to demonstrate adherence to testing, quarantine and isolation plans, as well as social distancing requirements for passengers and crew members.
The CDC says they will help by “establishing a laboratory team dedicated to cruise ships to provide information and oversight of COVID-19 testing,” updating instructions and creating a system to track ship status and passenger cases.
Meanwhile, cruise lines will need to build out the capacity and ability to test crew and passengers on a regular basis.
In their framework, the CDC says there may be simulated, or mock, voyages with volunteers to test cruise ship operators’ ability to apply COVID-19 mitigation measures.
Although the no-sail order will be lifted, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and other cruise lines have already cancelled sailings until 2021.