Some exciting developments are happening in the White House as President Biden is eying a relaxation of COVID measures in the United States.
With the successes the country is booking with vaccination levels, international air travel to resume from Europe, Brazil, the U.K., and Federal Commissioner Louis Sola suggesting his plans for a restart, we could see cruising happening Mid-May.
Limited Relaxation Of Restrictions
The relaxation of COVID measures that the White House is preparing, according to CNBC, will not be a full-blown release. The administration is eying travel across the Mexican and Canadian borders and inbound travel from the U.K., Europe, and Brazil to start up again.
Although the U.S. has been incredibly successful compared to other countries, President Biden is still unwilling to re-open completely; this is due to the spreading of several mutations that have been making the rounds in the U.K., South Africa, and Brazil, amongst others.
Worth Reading: Domestic Cruises in the UK Can Resume From May 17
The international borders could be re-opened for travelers that have been fully vaccinated and tested before travel. This would ensure that mutations are not spread further while the economy and tourism industries get a much-needed boost.
It would also mean that cruising could be in the plans again from Mid May with fully vaccinated guests onboard. This is also what Federal Maritime Commissioner Louis Sola has suggested in a memo published on March 18.
Path to the Safe Resumption of Cruises
According to Louis Sola, a safe path can be implemented reasonably quickly for cruise operations to resume sooner rather than later. The U.S. Federal Maritime Commission published a memo in which it details what it sees as a pathway for a resumption of cruises.
The commission has detailed three steps:
- Shore Side Measures Vaccinations: Prioritize the maritime workforce.
- Shipboard Measures Vaccinations: Vaccinate crew and only permit vaccinated individuals to travel as passengers.
- Destination Vaccinations — Allow only sailings to locations where the vaccination rates are already high, like Alaska or the private islands the cruise lines operate already in the Bahamas and Caribbean. Many cruise lines operate their islands in the Bahamas, and immunizing all staff working at such facilities is achievable.
Cruise lines and ports must work with health leaders to develop a uniform set of minimum best sanitation practices and implement them.
A coordinated effort that will minimize one’s risk of exposure to the disease at the terminal before boarding and the vessel is essential. Cooperation between the lines and every port of call must also exist to address evacuation, isolation, and medical care provision of infected individuals.
As daunting as it may sound, such agreements and plans already exist at some ports, and trial runs have already been conducted.
Depends on the CDC
It seems then that the combination of President Biden’s drive for widespread vaccinations, the Maritime Commission’s plans, and an eagerness in the cruise industry to get started as soon as possible could mean we would start seeing cruises or test cruises at least, soon.
That being said, the Biden administration plans and the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission mean very little if the CDC does not cooperate with the same in mind. As of yet, the cruise lines are still waiting for the CDC to release the technical instructions that will ultimately lead cruise lines to make those test cruises. Once the instructions are released cruise lines will need 60-90 days to comply with the regulations that have been laid out.
Furthermore, the cruise lines have already said they would need 90 days to crew, provision, and get the ships ready. Then again, there will certainly be ships and companies that can beat these numbers.
The United States has lost approximately $15 billion in direct cruise expenditures, and the businesses that rely upon the cruise industry have lost approximately $44 billion.
The tipping point between the necessary safety regulations in place for over a year now, a restart of international travel and cruise travel, and an economic upstart is now edged more towards the latter.
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