The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention will extend its No Sail Order for cruise ships to the end of October, according to Axios, which cited two sources involved in the decision.
According to Axios, the decision to extend the No Sail Order by a month was made during a meeting between CDC Director Robert Redfield and members of President Trump’s coronavirus team in the White House Situation Room.
The director of the CDC had reportedly pushed to have the No Sail Order extended into next year, but was over-ruled.
“In a meeting of the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force today in the Situation Room, Redfield argued that the government’s ban on cruise ships, which expires on Wednesday, should be extended until February, 2021 because of the virus’ severity and the vulnerability for spread on cruises,” reports Axios.
According to two taskforce members present, US Vice President Mike Pence, who chaired the meeting, told Redfield that they would be proceeding with a different plan.
The move will have little impact on the cruise industry, which had already voluntarily extended its pause in operations in the US and much of the rest of the world to October 31st, 2020.
US-based cruise lines have been increasingly vocal in their calls for officials to reopen the cruise industry and allow ships to sail to and from US ports, particularly the major embarkation ports in Florida, such as Miami and Port Canaveral.
Using lessons learned during the safe resumption of limited cruises in Europe, the Cruise Lines International Association, representing more than 90% of the industry, has submitted plans to the CDC to show how cruises can resume safely in the US.
These plans call for a range of health and safety measures from rapid COVID testing for all passengers and crew, enhanced cleaning and social distancing on-board, to mandatory mask-wearing and ‘isolated’ shore excursions that prevent passengers interacting with the public at cruise destinations.
According to the two taskforce members that spoke to Axios, the White House hopes that between now and the end of October those plans can be examined and shown to be effective in preventing the spread of coronavirus aboard ship.
However, the No Sail Order could still be cancelled altogether, with cruises allowed from October, based on a meeting between the government and the cruise lines taking place this week.
Representatives of the cruise industry are set to meet with the Trump administration on Friday to “describe their transformation and dozens of ways that they will mitigate risk and ensure public health,” according to a White House official.
“And in that meeting there will be a discussion and afterwards a decision will need to be made about whether the order needs to be extended,” the White House official added. “These things can be extended for a month and then we can reassess the conditions on an ongoing basis.”