The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] has announced its issuance of the next phase of technical guidance for the cruise industry under its Framework for Conditional Sailing Order.
This represents the second phase of the Conditional Sailing Order [CSO], which was introduced at the end of October 2020 to replace the CDC’s previous No-Sail Order for the cruise industry, which had been in force for the better part of eight months amid the pandemic.
This second, newly-released set of parameters requires cruise industry lines to establish agreements with the ports where they intend on operating, reduce the risk of introducing the COVID-19 virus to passengers and crew by installing protocols for the routine testing of staff members and make plans to incorporate vaccination strategies into their service operations.
This second phase of the CSO provides technical instructions for:
—Increasing the reporting frequency of COVID-19 cases and illnesses from weekly to daily.
—Updating criteria for the color-coding system, which is used to classify ships’ status with respect to COVID-19.
— Implementing routine testing of all crew, based on each ship’s color status.
—Shortening the length of time required for a “red” ship to become “green” from 28 to 14 days, based on the availability of onboard testing, routine screening testing protocols, and daily reporting.
—Creating planning materials for agreements with port and local health authorities (which they must approve) to ensure cruise lines have the necessary infrastructure in place to manage a COVID-19 outbreak aboard their ships, including the necessary healthcare capacity and housing to isolate infected persons and quarantine those with exposure.
—Establishing a plan and timeline for the vaccination of crew and port personnel.
The CDC disclosed that the next phase of the CSO for the cruise industry will include simulated voyages, populated by volunteer “passengers” and designed to train ships’ crews and port personnel on new COVID-19 operating procedures prior to conducting real-world sailings.