A restart of cruising in US waters appears no closer despite the country’s health authority relaxing rules on travel.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Covid-19 tests are no longer required for fully vaccinated people before or after a trip within America, and there is no need for them to self-quarantine.
The same rules apply to vaccinated people travelling internationally, with some exceptions. Some destinations may require a negative Covid-19 test for entry. And the CDC recommends people test negative before returning to the US.
While fully vaccinated people may travel at low risk, CDC director Dr Rochelle Walensky said: “CDC is not recommending travel at this time due to the rising number of cases.”
The CDC issued a new phase on its Framework for Conditional Sailing Order (CSO), first introduced last October, covering technical instructions for cruise ship operators and local health authorities.
However, the CDC continues to recommend that “all people avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide” due to the “high” risk of getting Covid-19 on board.
The framework proposed a four-phase approach for resuming passenger cruises.
“Passenger operations continue to be suspended during the initial phases of this order. The initial phase requires crew screening to determine the prevalence of Covid-19 among all crew members currently on cruise ships in US waters,” the CDC said.
Clia reiterated its call on the Biden administration to consider the “ample evidence” that supports lifting the CSO this month to allow for the planning of a controlled return to service this summer.
“If anything, the announcement last Friday is a clarion call for closer co-operation and coordination among stakeholders to achieve the president’s goal of reaching a ‘new normal’ by July 4,” the association said on Monday.
“Working together, we can avoid the negative consequences that come when cruising, and the workers who support it, are not afforded the same opportunities as other workers in industries with far fewer practices in place to provide for public health and well-being.”
Clia’s latest intervention came as Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings put forward plans to restart sailings frm US ports in July with vaccinated passengers and crew.
“Nearly 400,000 passengers have already sailed from Europe and parts of Asia since last summer, following stringent, science-based protocols that resulted in a far lower incident rate than on land,” Clia added. “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, including the ability to effectively mitigate risk on cruise ships.
“With no discernable path forward or timeframe for resumption in the US, more sailings originating in the Caribbean and elsewhere are likely to be announced, effectively shutting American ports, closing thousands of American small businesses, and pushing an entire industry off- shore.”
Meanwhile, the US Travel Association described Friday’s announcement on the relaxation of guidance on travel for those vaccinated against Covid as a “major step in the right direction”.
President and chief executive Roger Dow said it will “take the brakes off the industry that has been hardest hit by the fallout of Covid by far”, adding: “As travel comes back, US jobs come back.”
Dow said: The CDC’s data suggests that vaccinated individuals don’t transmit the coronavirus, which opens the door much wider for resuming travel, albeit while continuing to carefully follow other health best practices.
“Acknowledging that vaccinations eliminate the need for testing and quarantines removes a key barrier to domestic travel.
“Rescinding the recommendation that international visitors must quarantine also is an important incremental step.
“The year-long halt on travel has devastated US employment, with travel-supported jobs accounting for 65% of all US jobs lost last year, and this is an opportunity to begin reclaiming a lot of what’s been lost.
“The travel industry’s mantra throughout the pandemic has been to be guided by the science, which clearly shows that now is the right time for this move.
“Meanwhile, it remains important that all eligible Americans get vaccinated as soon as they can in order to more quickly recover the ability for all to travel freely.”
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