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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has ended its COVID-19 program for cruise ships as cruise lines use their own mitigation programs.
The CDC’s COVID-19 cruise ship program has been a hallmark of the coronavirus pandemic after many of the initial high-profile outbreaks took place on board ships.
The CDC’s “no sail order” for cruise ships, initiated in March 2020, led to a 15-month standstill in the industry as other forms of passenger travel remained open to the public. The no sail order was extended several times before the CDC eventually issued a Conditional Sailing Order that allowed cruise ships to return to passenger operations in June 2021 with strict health and safety protocols in place. Since then, the CDC’s cruise ship program has slowly been scaled back, moving to a voluntary program beginning in January 2022.
The program has used a color-coding system published by the CDC to help rank transmission levels on individual ships. As of July 18, the program has ceased and the webpage for the color-coding system has been removed.
The CDC says that although the program has ended, it will continue to provide testing recommendations for cruise ship operators and cruise ships will continue to report COVID-19 cases to CDC.
“CDC has worked closely with the cruise industry, state, territorial, and local health authorities, and federal and seaport partners to provide a safer and healthier environment for cruise passengers and crew,” the CDC said in an FAQ. “While cruising poses some risk of COVID-19 transmission, CDC will continue to publish guidance to help cruise ships continue to provide a safer and healthier environment for crew, passengers, and communities going forward.”
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