The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has extended a "no sail" order of cruise ships operating in U.S. waters until October 31. The order was initially put in place in March as cruise ships around the world dealt with COVID-19 outbreaks that forced a number of ships to quarantine at sea for two weeks. This is the third time the order has been extended.
The CDC cited recent outbreaks on foreign cruises as a reason for extending the ban for another month.
"Recent outbreaks on cruise ships overseas provide current evidence that cruise ship travel continues to transmit and amplify the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19,—even when ships sail at reduced passenger capacities—and would likely spread the infection into U.S. communities if passenger operations were to resume prematurely in the United States," the CDC said.
The agency reported there have been at least 3,689 confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 on cruise ships in the U.S. since March 1, and at least 41 people have died. The CDC said that data shows that the virus can quickly spread throughout a ship, even when essential crew members are the only people on board.
"On cruise ships, passengers and crew share spaces that are more crowded than most urban settings. Data show that when only essential crew are on board, ongoing spread of SARS-CoV-2 still occurs. If unrestricted cruise ship passenger operations were permitted to resume, passengers and crew on board would be at increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and those that work or travel on cruise ships would place substantial unnecessary risk on healthcare workers, port personnel and federal partners (i.e., Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Coast Guard), and the communities they return to."
The Cruise Lines International Association said it is creating new health and safety guidelines, which include mandatory COVID testing for all crew members and passengers, upgrading and enhancing ventilation systems, mandatory mask-wearing, and updated protocols for shore excursions.
"We look forward to engaging in a thoughtful and productive dialogue with our partners and regulators in the United States to return to cruising in the region," Bari Golin-Blaugrund, vice president of strategic communications for the Cruise Lines International Association, said.
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