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CDC's COVID-19 guidelines for cruise ships to expire, become voluntary

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CDC's COVID-19 guidelines for cruise ships to expire, become voluntary
Protocols set in place by the CDC for cruise ships are set to expire on Saturday, with mitigation measures becoming voluntary. File Photo by Heyder Castillo/EPA-EFE

Jan. 14 (UPI) -- Guidance outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for cruise liners will expire on Saturday, after which cautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will become voluntary.

The CDC's Framework for Conditional Sailing Order -- which was extended in October until Jan. 15 -- will not be extended again, according to USA Today.

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"After the expiration of the Temporary Extension & Modification of the CSO, CDC intends to transition to a voluntary program, in coordination with cruise ship operators and other stakeholders, to assist the cruise ship industry to detect, mitigate, and control the spread of COVID-19 onboard cruise ships," the CDC wrote in its guideline.

Spokesperson David Daigle said that the CDC is transitioning to a risk mitigation program.

Ships operating in the United States with international itineraries that choose not to follow CDC guidelines will be classified as "gray" on the health agency's "Cruise Ship Color Status."

Those who choose not to follow the guidelines but are only sailing in U.S. waters won't be listed at all.

More information about the voluntary program will be released on Saturday, according to the agency.

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Meanwhile, cruise ships are facing increasing cases of COVID-19, with some being denied port because of the surges.

Royal Caribbean International announced on Friday that it was pausing operations on multiple ships due to outbreaks. Norwegian Cruise Line also canceled several cruises last week.

The CDC recommended travelers avoid cruise ships two weeks ago.

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