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CDC Shirks Industry Pressure, Keeps Cruise Ban & COVID Requirements

Pressure may burst pipes, but neither the cruise ship industry nor local governments can squeeze the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention into prematurely changing COVID protocols.

The CDC currently has U.S. ports under a “conditional sail order,” which requires cruise companies to: Test all crew members for COVID-19 weekly and report results to the agency; perform PCR testing for all passengers and crew on embarkation and disembarkation days; publicize CDC cruise travel warnings in all marketing materials; and end cruises immediately in the case of an outbreak, among other measures. The agency issued the order in October 2020, and it is slated to hold until November 2021.

Florida governor Ron DeSantis, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, and the cruise industry lobbying group CLIA, however, believe that the order is unnecessary now that multiple COVID-19 vaccines are available.

Citing the 60,000 South Floridians who work directly or indirectly in the cruise industry, Mayor Cava urged the agency to allow only vaccinated passengers and crew to resume travel as early as July 1.

Despite ramped up vaccination efforts, however, the coronavirus is still spreading relatively unchecked throughout the country. “Over the last three weeks, the U.S. has recorded about 55,000 cases a day, the same number of people who tested positive in a record-setting day last July,” reports Yahoo! News.

On top of that, 33 cruise ships in U.S. waters have reported crew members testing positive for COVID-19 or having COVID-like illness (clinically compatible without laboratory confirmation) since the start of the year.

Yet, at least two cruise companies are attempting to skirt CDC requirements by encouraging U.S. residents to take cruises out of the Caribbean this summer. According to Yahoo! News, “Royal Caribbean Group will begin seven-night cruises from The Bahamas and St. Maarten to Mexico, Tortola, St. Lucia, Aruba, Curaçao and Barbados in June, followed by Crystal Cruises in The Bahamas in July.” While both companies will require passengers over 18 to be vaccinated, only Royal Caribbean Group will require the same of its crew.

The other four major cruise companies have yet to comment on their plans.


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