(CMR) Cruises in the US could resume this summer with some restrictions, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
According to USA Today, the CDC, in a letter to the cruise industry, stated that cruises could resume depending on cruise lines' pace and compliance with the CDC's Framework for Conditional Sailing Order.
“We acknowledge that cruising will never be a zero-risk activity and that the goal of the CSO’s phased approach is to resume passenger operations in a way that mitigates the risk of COVID-19 transmission onboard cruise ships and across port communities,” Aimee Treffiletti, head of the Maritime Unit for CDC’s COVID-19 response within its Global Mitigation Task Force for COVID-19, said in the letter.
The CDC said ships could bypass the required simulated test voyages carrying volunteers and jump to sailings with paying passengers if 98% of crew and 95% of passengers are fully vaccinated.
The CDC will also now shorten review and respond to applications from cruise lines for simulated voyages within 5 days instead of the previously expected 60 days. Also, CDC will update its testing and quarantine requirements for passengers and crew on sailings with paying passengers to align with the CDC's guidance for fully vaccinated people. So, for example, instead of taking a PCR lab test ahead of boarding, vaccinated passengers can take a rapid antigen test upon embarkation.
Cruise ship operators may enter into a “multi-port agreement” rather than a single port agreement as long as all port and local authorities sign the agreement, the CDC has stated.
The CDC has also clarified guidance on quarantine guidelines for passengers who may be exposed to or contract COVID-19. Local passengers may be able to drive home, and passengers who have traveled by air to cruise may quarantine in a hotel, USA Today reported.