The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended a no-sail order for cruise ships late Thursday in a directive that harshly criticized the industry’s handling of coronavirus outbreaks on multiple ships.
Cruise lines voluntarily suspended operations nearly a month ago for at least 30 days, and have since extended those cancellations into late April or May. The CDC order, signed by director Robert Redfield, says cruising should not resume until covid-19 no longer constitutes a public health emergency, the agency rescinds or modifies the order or for 100 days, whichever comes first. It renews a March 14 mandate.
According to the order, Redfield “finds that cruise ship travel exacerbates the global spread of covid-19, and that the scope of this pandemic is inherently and necessarily a problem that is international and interstate in nature and has not been controlled sufficiently by the cruise ship industry or individual state or local health authorities.”
The agency asks cruise operators to submit a plan within seven days that addresses a host of concerns, including surveillance and reporting of illness on board, crew training, testing procedures, onboard medical care and evacuation logistics.
In a statement, the CDC pointed to at least 10 ships in recent weeks that had reported crew or passengers who tested positive for coronavirus or experienced symptoms; the order notes 15 ships either at anchor or in ports in the United States with known or suspected infection among remaining crew.
According to the agency, about 100 ships are off U.S. coasts with nearly 90,000 crew on board.
The cruise industry’s trade group, Cruise Lines International Association, submitted a plan last week for caring for crew and others on board while ships aren’t sailing.
But that needs to go further, the CDC said, “to reduce industry reliance on government and shoreside hospital resources.”