With industries trying to steady themselves amid the pandemic, many are going back to providing safe services to customers. Among them is the travel industry, which is believed to have been the most impacted because of the ongoing health crisis. The CNN reports that while for the longest time cruise ships and their passengers were waiting to move in and out of US ports, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has now relaxed some restrictions, and is letting its ‘no-sail’ order to expire.
In its stead, the CDC issued a ‘Framework for Conditional Sailing Order for Cruise Ships’ November 1 onward. It is not to be confused with full liberty for ships to sail out and in with passengers as if the pandemic is over, but that there are some conditions in place for their safe operation. The sailing had stopped following a no-sail order back in March 14, 2020.
The report suggests that the order applies to cruise ships with the capacity to carry at least 250 passengers. The rule is that it will be the crew members, and not passengers, who will first disembark from the ships in the territorial waters of the US.
In the phased return, the cruise ship operators build lab capacity for the safe testing of crew members and future passengers. Companies are expected to show they adhere to and are in favour of testing, social distancing, quarantining and isolating requirements, as and when required.
In the later phases, there will be ‘mock voyages’, with some volunteers playing the role of passengers to understand and test the effectiveness of virus mitigation strategies. Whenever the ships meet requirements, they will be allowed to start operations with actual passengers.
“This framework provides a pathway to resume safe and responsible 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,” DC Director Dr Robert Redfield was quoted as saying in a statement.
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