WASHINGTON — U.S. federal health officials extended its cruise ship rules on Monday for nearly three more months.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the extension makes only “minor modifications” to rules already in effect. The agency said that after Jan. 15, 2022 it plans to move to a voluntary program for cruise companies to detect and control the spread of COVID-19 on their ships.
The current regulations, called a Framework for Conditional Sailing Order, were scheduled to expire on Nov. 1.
The CDC imposed the first no-sail order on cruise lines in March 2020, after most companies sailing in U.S. waters had agreed to suspend voyages. The CDC issue technical guidelines for the industry five months later, and began approving trial sailings this spring.
Cruises have since sailed from Florida and other parts of the country. Most lines require adult passengers to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19.
The CDC noted on Twitter that since it first issued restrictions on sailing, cruise lines have developed and implemented health and safety protocols to manage COVID-19 and have resumed cruising.
In response to the CDC’s temporary extension of the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order, CLIA issued a statement that touted the industry’s successful resumption in the United States, with public health measures in place that have enabled its cruise line members to effectively mitigate the risk of COVID-19 among passengers, crewmembers and destinations.
“The changes to the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) show that the Biden Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognize the cruise industry’s successful resumption of operations. We look forward to demonstrating the industry’s continued leadership in this final phase of the CSO, and to carrying out a smooth transition when the Order comes to an end on 15 January 2022.”
The statement went on to read:
“Cruise industry protocols are unique in their approach to monitor, detect, and respond to potential cases of COVID-19. As a result, CLIA-member ocean-going cruise ships are sailing today with some of the highest levels of COVID-19 mitigation of any industry. In addition, the economic impact of the cruise industry reaches every U.S. state, helping to support nearly 450,000 American jobs and reigniting local economies in places like Alaska, California, Florida, Texas, New York, and many other states that benefit from a vibrant cruise industry. These accomplishments are the result of ongoing dialogue and collaboration with the Biden Administration, as well as our members’ strong commitment to making cruise a model for responsible travel.
“The health and safety of cruise passengers, crewmembers and destinations remain the industry’s highest priority. CLIA ocean-going cruise line members will continue to be guided by science and the principle of putting people first as we work with the Administration and the CDC to expand on our progress and build additional confidence in cruising as one of the safest vacation options, during the pandemic and beyond.”
With files from The Associated Press