The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday gave the cruise ship industry a framework to resume operations.
Friday’s conditional order replaces a “no sail” order that’s been in effect since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, but doesn't immediately open the door for passengers to start taking cruises again.
The CDC's plan “will ensure cruise ship operators have adequate health and safety protections for crew members while these cruise ship operators build the laboratory capacity needed to test future passengers,” the 40-page order says.
Subsequent phases will include simulated voyages and eventually cruise ship passenger voyages “in a manner that mitigates COVID-19 risk among passengers, crew members, and U.S. communities.”
The cruise industry has been sidelined since a March “no sail” order, which has been extended three times. PortMiami, Port Canaveral, and Port Everglades are three of the top cruise ports in the world, with the large passenger ships also operating out of the Port of Tampa Bay, the Port of Palm Beach and JaxPort. Currently, no major cruise lines are selling departures for November out of U.S. ports.
In August, the Florida Ports Council estimated the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the cruise industry in Florida, along with a slowdown in cargo traffic, at 169,000 Florida jobs and $23 billion in economic loss.