Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly and Health Minister Greg Hunt announced today that the cruise ban would be extended until March 17, 2021, at a minimum.
This is another blow for the Australian tourism industry, in which the cruise industry is worth $5 billion yearly. As Cruise Hive reported a few weeks ago, the hope was that the industry would be able to resume service this month. As it turned out, this was not to be.
The statement, which was published on the government website, said:
The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) and Commonwealth Chief Medical have advised that the international COVID-19 situation continues to pose an unacceptable public health risk. The extension of the emergency period for a further three months is an appropriate response to that risk.
Although the limitations are in place until March 17, they can be amended at any time, according to Health Minister Mr. Greg Hunt. Mr. Hunt also stated that the government is working closely with the cruise industry:
“We are working closely with state and territory agencies and the cruise industry, to develop a framework for the staged resumption of cruise ships in a manner that is proportionate to the public health risk.”
Cruise Lines International Still Hopefull
The international organization that speaks for the cruise industry, Cruise Lines International Association in Australia, reacted today through its website.
According to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Managing Director Australasia Joel Katz, the cruise lines welcome the statement from Mr. Hunt and the Australian government to ensure a phased-in return to cruising as soon as possible:
“Australia’s success in stemming Covid-19 has created the opportunity for a carefully managed and responsible pathway towards recovery. We need to work towards replacing the existing blanket suspension of cruise operations with an approval process that will allow cruise lines to progress a phased and tightly controlled resumption in 2021.”
Major Cruise Industry Countries Not Opening
It is looking like Australia, and the United States are areas where cruising will not be happening soon, while there is much uncertainty about the UK.
With an extension of the ban in Australia until March 17 and cancellations from all major cruise lines until February in the United States, these are bleak days for significant parts of the cruise industry.
Although the UK started vaccinations today for COVID-19, it remains entirely unclear when cruising might be able to resume in the British Isles. Andy Harmer, UK and Ireland director of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), said:
“As we face the prospect of new restrictions impacting our daily lives, we are all being tested, and I’m proud that our cruising community has been stepping up to the challenge. I know that everyone is working around the clock to adapt to the new landscape we find ourselves in and make every effort to keep customers informed with updated information, even as developments are seeming to occur so rapidly. Our customers should feel assured that our industry remains focused on their safety, health, and well-being.”
The previous bad on cruise ships in Australia was until December 17, 2020. Major cruise lines such as Carnival have already suspended operations into March so the impact should be limited. This will allow time for planning and implementing new health measures.
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