Coronavirus: CDC extends ‘no-sail’ order on cruises from US ports until October

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday that the “no-sail” order for cruises in U.S. waters has been extended until at least Oct. 1, multiple news outlets reported.

The order, initially slated to expire July 24, will now remain in effect through the end of September unless the CDC director modifies the order or the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declares that the novel coronavirus is no longer a public health emergency, the CDC stated.

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According to USA Today, the cruise industry had already independently suspended operations until at least Sept. 15, but leaders of the Cruise Lines International Association, the trade organization whose member lines carry 95% of the world’s sea-faring cruisers, now believe that target is unrealistic.

“Although we had hoped that cruise activity in the U.S. could resume as soon as possible after (July 24), it is increasingly clear that more time will be needed to resolve barriers to resumption in the United States,” Bari Golin-Blaugrund, the association’s senior director for strategic communications, told USA Today.

“We want the traveling public to know in no uncertain terms that when we do resume operations in the U.S., it will be with the confidence that we have the necessary protocols and systems in place, and that we have done so with the input of the CDC,” she added.

Meanwhile, Florida and PortMiami – the world’s busiest cruise port – house headquarters for all the major cruise companies operating in the United States and have recorded staggering increases in COVID-19 infections in recent weeks, the Miami Herald reported.

In fact, the Florida Department of Health confirmed 13,965 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, marking the state’s second-highest single day total since the pandemic began.

Meanwhile, cruise companies have reported a total of 2,973 COVID-19 infections or COVID-like illnesses to the CDC since March 1 on cruise ships in U.S. waters – resulting in 34 deaths – and roughly one-third of those illnesses and the death of one crew member have occurred since June 23, the Herald reported.