The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Thursday it has extended a No Sail Order for all cruise ships as a result of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
This order ceases operations of cruise ships in waters in which the United States may exert jurisdiction and requires that cruise ship operators develop a comprehensive, detailed operational plan approved by CDC and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), including a fully implementable response plan with limited reliance on state, local and federal government support. These plans would help prevent, mitigate and respond to the spread of COVID-19, by:
- Monitoring passengers and crew medical screenings
- Training crew on COVID-19 prevention
- Managing and responding to an outbreak on board
This No Sail Order shall continue in operation until the earliest of three situations: First, the expiration of the Secretary of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) declaration that COVID-19 constitutes a public health emergency; second, the CDC director rescinds or modifies the order based on specific public health or other considerations; or third, 100 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register.
Among additional information in the order, several notes include:
- Cruise ship operators are not allowed to disembark travelers (passengers or crew) at ports or stations, except as directed by the USCG in consultation with HHS/CDC personnel and, as appropriate, as coordinated with federal, state and local authorities
- Cruise ship operators should not embark or re-embark any crew member, except as approved by the USCG, in consultation with HHS/CDC personnel, until further notice
- While in port, cruise ship operators shall observe health precautions directed by HHS/CDC personnel
In recent weeks, at least 10 cruise ships reported crew or passengers that tested positive or experienced respiratory symptoms or influenza-like illness. Currently, there are approximately 100 cruise ships remaining at sea off the East Coast, West Coast and Gulf Coast, with nearly 80,000 crew onboard. Additionally, the CDC is aware of 20 cruise ships at port or anchorage in the United States with known or suspected COVID-19 infection among the crew who remain onboard.
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) previously voluntarily suspended cruise ship operations in conjunction with the earlier No Sail Order issued March 14. The CDC also recently issued new recommendations to help U.S. cruise ship travelers get home as quickly and safely as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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