The United States Centres for Disease Control & Prevention is allowing a ‘no sail’ order for cruise ships operating in United States waters to expire.
The government body issued a conditional framework of new regulations that every cruise lines must follow before returning for operation.
The no-sail order issued in March came amid a rising number of COVID-19 cases on cruise ships. On Friday, shares of major cruise lines Carnival Corp, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean Cruises closed up around 5% following the CDC order.
The first phase of this effort to relaunch focus, not on passengers but on crew members, who would be allowed to disembark from ships in the territorial waters of the United States.
It applies to ships that carry over 250 passengers.
The phased return begins while cruise ship operators build lab capacity to test crew members and future passengers.
Companies must show they adhere to testing, social distancing, quarantining and isolating requirements when necessary.
Later phases involve what are known as “mock voyages,” with volunteers playing the role of passengers to test virus mitigation strategies on trips.
Once ships have met certain requirements, they will be certified to begin operations with real passengers.
“This framework provides a pathway to resume safe and responsible for sailing.
“It will mitigate the risk of Covid-19 outbreaks on ships and prevent passengers and crew from seeding outbreaks at ports and in the communities where they live,” said CDC director, Robert Redfield.
The full framework can be seen here.