Oct. 31 (UPI) -- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has chosen not to renew its "no sail" order for passenger cruise ships and unveiled new guidelines for the gradual resumption of voyages.
The CDC on Friday issued what it called a "conditional sailing order" that requires the cruise line industry to implement certain safety procedures to limit the spread of COVID-19 among passengers and local communities before it ships can return to operation.
"This framework provides a pathway to resume safe and responsible sailing. It will mitigate the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks on ships and prevent passengers and crew from seeding outbreaks at ports and in the communities where they live," CDC Director Robert R. Redfield said. "CDC and the cruise industry have a shared goal to protect crew, passengers, and communities and will continue to work together to ensure that all necessary public health procedures are in place before cruise ships begin sailing with passengers."
Under the new guidelines, cruise ship operators must build laboratories on board each vessel with enough capacity to test crew and passengers, as well as hire a team necessary to conduct such testing.
Each ship also will be required to update and use a color-coded system to indicate the ship's status and update procedures for surveillance of COVID-19 on board.
"Our member lines are 100 percent committed to helping to protect the health of our guests, our crew and the communities we serve, and are prepared to implement multiple layers of protocols informed by the latest scientific and medical knowledge," said Kelly Craighead, president and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association. "We look forward to reviewing the new Order and are optimistic that it is an important step toward returning our ships to service from U.S. ports."
The CDC issued a "no-sail" order for all cruise lines in the United States in March as the novel coronavirus began spreading among passengers of cruise ships worldwide. The agency renewed the order multiple times and is allowing its current order to expire Saturday.
According to The Miami Herald, cruise ships worldwide have been linked to 3,908 COVID-19 cases and 111 deaths as of early October. Carnival Corporation was the hardest hit by the novel coronavirus, with more than 2,400 cases among crew and passengers, and 80 deaths linked to cruise ships.
Some cruise lines were forced to remain at sea as countries refused to allow passengers to disembark.