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CDC extends ‘no-sail order’ for U.S cruise ships

The new order will expire October 31

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has extended its “no sail” order for U.S. ships, which previously expired September 30. The CDC said on Wednesday that the new order will last until October 31.

With no vaccine available, crowded spaces like cruise ships remain risky -- particularly for seniors and other vulnerable members of the population. After evaluating the outcomes of cruises that took place overseas, the agency concluded that cruises still aren’t completely safe. 

"Recent outbreaks on cruise ships overseas provide current evidence that cruise ship travel continues to transmit and amplify the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19,” the CDC said.

Those outbreaks occurred in spite of new health and safety measures enacted by the cruise lines, the agency added. At this point, the CDC said there is a need for additional testing, isolation, and contact tracing efforts.

White House overrules CDC

While the no-sail order will effectively last until the end of the month, the CDC said it would also lift it if the Secretary of Health and Human Services’ declared that COVID-19 no longer constitutes a public health emergency or when the CDC director “rescinds or modifies the order based on specific public health or other considerations.” 

The New York Times reported that CDC Director Robert Redfield originally wanted to extend the order to next February, but the Trump administration overruled that decision. White House officials hope that the cruise industry can demonstrate that it has a plan to ensure the safety of ships “and that the companies assume the burden of dealing with any possible outbreaks” before October 31. 

A panel of medical experts formed by Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line recently submitted more than 70 recommendations to federal regulators on how safe cruising could be made possible during the pandemic. 

“We know that both authorities around the globe and consumers expect cruise lines to provide the safest, healthiest vacations we can, and this work demonstrates our commitment to doing just that,” said Frank Del Rio, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line.

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