The no sail order for cruise ships, which expired on September 30, has again been extended but this extension is much shorter than what CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield recommended.
Dr. Redfield wanted to extend the order for several more months. His justification was that the severity of COVID-19, along with the vulnerability of cruise ships in terms of transmission, suggested it would be appropriate to extend the no-sail order through February of 2021.
However, White House officials said that the date was unreasonable. So Vice President Mike Pence, chairman of the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force, overruled him and decreed that the No Sail Order will only continue through October 31, 2020. This end date is the same as that of the cruise industry’s self-imposed ban.
The overruling of Dr. Redfield’s suggested date appears to be a point of contention. From Axios:
The undermining of Redfield has been the source of much consternation among public health officials inside the administration, who argue that a politically motivated White House is ignoring the science and pushing too aggressively to reopen the economy and encourage large gatherings.
With large ports in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Port Canaveral and Tampa, cruising is a huge industry in the election battleground state of Florida. In recent weeks, Republican politicians in the Sunshine State and powerful cruise lobbyists have called for an end to the “No Sail Order.” However, the White House denies the move is politically based.
To be sure, the October 31 end date is not set in stone. The “Healthy Sail Panel” has submitted 65 pages of recommendations to the CDC, which still needs to be reviewed before the CDC will give their recommendations for commencement. After that, protocols and equipment must be put into place, and crews trained.
Cruise Line International Association, which represents 95% of cruise lines, has already mandated that all passengers and crew must be tested for COVID-19 before going on board when cruises do resume. Ships will also have to designate cabins for isolation in the event of a virus outbreak.
Regardless of when the No Sail Order finally ends, some cruise lines have already announced they won’t begin sailing until some time in 2021. Crystal’s first voyage isn’t scheduled until January, Carnival, Victory and Celestial won’t sail until the spring, and Princess has also canceled some of its 2021 offerings.
Feature Photo: pxhere
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary