Towards the beginning of the global pandemic, the cruise industry shut down due to large outbreaks aboard the ships. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention then issued a no-sail order that expired, Wednesday, September 30.
To prevent another outbreak or surge of COVID-19 cases before the year is over, CDC Director Robert Redfield recommended during a meeting in the White House Situation Room that an extension be placed on the no-sail order until February 2021. However, Vice President Mike Pence sided against that decision and informed Redfield that the Trump administration will be pursuing a different course of action.
Instead of preventing ships from setting seas until 2021, the administration decided to only extend the no-sail order until October 31. It is expected by the administration that between now and the deadline date of the extension, the cruise industry will be able to show its plans to allow the vessels to “sail in a safe and responsible manner and that the companies assume the burden of dealing with any possible outbreaks,” according to officials at the meeting.
This past week, Cruise Lines International Association- a trade group representing more than 90 percent of the industry, released its health protocols that would be mandatory for industry members. It includes testing all passengers and crew for COVID-19, mask-wearing, social-distancing measures, and improved ventilation.
But, according to Ars Technica, such protocols have not been proven to be successful at preventing outbreaks amongst large groups on ships. In August, Norwegian cruise operator Hurtigruten became the first cruise line in the world to resume operation during the widespread pandemic. After an outbreak unleashed itself aboard one of its ships, all voyages were ceased. At that time, Hurtigruten’s CEO stated, “We have not been good enough, and we have made mistakes.”
According to reports, representatives of the cruise industry will meet with Donald Trump to discuss whether the no-sail order needs to extend beyond its October date.