“We are working with the cruise line industry to address the health and safety of crew at sea as well as communities surrounding U.S. cruise ship points of entry,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a statement.
“The measures we are taking today to stop the spread of COVID-19 are necessary to protect Americans, and we will continue to provide critical public health guidance to the industry to limit the impacts of COVID-19 on its workforce throughout the remainder of this pandemic.”
The order, first issued on March 14 (pdf), stops cruise ships from operating in waters under U.S. jurisdiction and requires that the cruise ships develop a “fully implementable response plan with limited reliance on state, local, and federal government support” to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plan would need to be approved by the CDC and the U.S. Coast Guard, and involve the “monitoring of passengers and crew medical screenings; training crew on COVID-19 prevention; [and] managing and responding to an outbreak on board.”
According to the order, passengers or crew are not allowed to disembark at ports or stations unless permitted by the USCG, and cannot embark or re-embark a cruise ship without USCG approval.
About 100 cruise ships are currently at sea off the U.S. East Coast, West Coast, and Gulf Coast, holding altogether nearly 80,000 crew.
“Additionally, CDC is aware of 20 cruise ships at port or anchorage in the United States with known or suspected COVID-19 infection among the crew who remain onboard,” the CDC stated.
The agency said that at least 10 cruise ships in recent weeks have reported people confirmed to have the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus—also known as the novel coronavirus—or cases of respiratory symptoms of influenza-like illness. This includes the Costa Magia, Costa Favolosa, Celebrity Eclipse, Disney Wonder, Holland America Zaandam, and Celebrity Coral Princess.
The CDC noted that at least 20 cruise ships at port or anchored in U.S. waters have known or suspected cases of the CCP virus among the crew who remain onboard.
On March 13, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), whose members comprise more than 95 percent of the global cruise capacity, voluntarily suspended cruise ship operations from U.S. ports for 30 days. Similarly, several cruise liners also suspended their operations voluntarily.
The industry group has been working on an illness response plan to help curb the spread of the virus among international crew members still on board on its ships at sea.
The “No Sail order” will be in effect until the COVID-19 national public health emergency expires, the order is rescinded, or after 100 days.