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CRUISE Lines International Association (CLIA) overnight called for the lifting of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s (CDC) Framework for Conditional Sailing Order, after the national public health agency significantly relaxed restrictions on other types of travel for vaccinated passengers.
Calling out inconsistencies in the CDC’s approach, CLIA said new cruise requirements issued by the agency on Fri are “unduly burdensome, largely unworkable, and seem to reflect a zero-risk objective rather than the mitigation approach to COVID that is the basis for every other US sector of our society”.
The new phase of the CDC order provides technical instructions for increasing the reporting frequency of coronavirus cases from weekly to daily, updates criteria for the traffic-light colour-coding system used to classify the status of vessels, and details requirements for simulated voyages populated by volunteer “passengers” aimed at training crews and ports on new operating procedures prior to conducting revenue sailings.
However, the CDC has at the same time detailed new recommendations for fully vaccinated travellers, who are now able to resume both int’l and domestic travel at what the agency is calling “low-risk”.
Vaccinated travellers do not require a COVID-19 test before and after travel within the United States, but still need to wear masks and take other precautions, as well as have a negative test to board an int’l flight to the country.
“On the same day CDC issued new onerous requirements for the cruise industry, five months after the original order, CDC issued relaxed guidance for domestic and international travel due to vaccination progress and recognition of the improved public health environment,” CLIA said.
The association also noted nearly 400,000 passengers had already safely sailed from Europe and parts of Asia “following stringent, science-based protocols that resulted in a far lower incident rate than on land”.
“The irony is that today an American can fly to any number of destinations to take a cruise, but cannot board a ship in the US.
“This deprives US workers from participating in the economic recovery and does not recognise the public health advances that have been made over many months,” CLIA added, urging the lifting of the CDC order to allow planning for a controlled return.