The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has extended the No Sail Order for cruise ships through September 30, 2020. This order continues to suspend passenger operations on cruise ships with the capacity to carry at least 250 passengers in waters subject to U.S. jurisdiction.
CDC supports the June 19th decision by CLIA – the Cruise Lines International Association – to voluntarily extend the suspension of operations for passenger cruise ship travel until September 15, 2020.
But since not all ship operators affected by the CDC’s No Sail Order are CLIA members, the agency has extended its No Sail Order to ensure that passenger operations on cruise ships do not resume prematurely.
The decision to extend the No Sail Order is based on cumulative CDC data from March 1 through July 10, 2020, shows 2,973 COVID-19 or COVID-like illness cases on cruise ships, in addition to 34 deaths.
These cases were part of 99 outbreaks on 123 different cruise ships. During this time frame, 80 percent of ships were affected by COVID-19. As of July 3, nine of the 49 ships under the No Sail Order have ongoing or resolving outbreaks.
According to U.S. Coast Guard data, as of July 10, 2020, there are 67 ships with 14,702 crew onboard.
According to the CDC passengers and crew on cruise ships share spaces that are more crowded than most urban settings. Even when only essential crew are on board, ongoing spread of COVID-19 still occurs. If unrestricted cruise ship passenger operations were permitted to resume, passengers and crew on board would be at increased risk of COVID-19 infection and those that work or travel on cruise ships would place substantial unnecessary risk on healthcare workers, port personnel, federal employees (border patrol for example) and the communities they return to.
New health and safety measures
Over the past few weeks various cruise lines including Norwegian Cruise Line rolled out new health and safety measures. These new measures include: enhanced health screenings for crew and passengers, increased sanitation, measures to guarantee social distancing and enhanced medical resources.
The CDC has been in touch with these cruise lines to assess their plans to resume operations safely, but said all proposals it initially received have been “incomplete” and “did not fully meet all the requirements” laid out in the health agency’s No Sail Order.
The CDC’s No Sail Order originally went into effect on March 14 and was due to expire on July 24.
The No Sail Order will remain in effect until the Secretary of Health and Human Services’ declaration that COVID-19 constitutes a public health emergency expires, the CDC Director rescinds or modifies the order based on specific public health or other considerations, or on September 30, 2020.