US Travel Association calls for CDC to lift restrictions on cruise industry, allow sailing to resume
U.S. Travel Association, the national trade group that represents all facets of American travel, is joining the cruise industry in calling for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to lift its conditional sailing order, and for the agency to provide a path forward that allows cruise lines to resume sailing.
"We join the calls to identify the way toward lifting the Conditional Sail Order and allowing the phased resumption of cruise operations as quickly as possible," Roger Dow, president of the U.S. Travel Association, said in a statement.
The CDC order, issued Oct. 30, laid out a phased plan that cruise lines must meet before carrying paying passengers again; however, the cruise industry said last week that it hadn't received additional guidance since.
Dow said the CDC's restrictions have taken a "disproportionately heavy" toll on the travel industry and that the rule keeping cruising from resuming is "uniquely specific."
He continued: “The standard of evidence should be exceptionally high for rules that effectively single out certain industries as other parts of the economy are allowed to reopen."
Dow added that it is "economically imperative" to find "pathways" to reopen, adding that "evidence is clear" that a multitiered health and safety approach can provide for a safe resumption of travel.
Cruise Lines International Association, which represents 95% of ocean-going cruise capacity, called out the CDC last week over what it views as unfair treatment. The health authority shut down cruising in U.S. waters in mid-March 2020 following outbreaks on large passenger ships, including Princess Cruises' Diamond Princess. The industry has remained idle for over a year since while other segments of the travel industry, such as airlines and theme parks, have been allowed to continue or resume operating amid the pandemic, albeit with added safety precautions.
CLIA also urged the CDC to lift the order barring passenger ships from sailing and allow cruising to resume in phases by July.
Caitlin Shockey, a spokesperson for the CDC, told USA TODAY last week that the conditional sailing order will remain in effect until Nov. 1, and that the plan for next phases of the cruise industry's restart plan are in the works.
"Returning to passenger cruising is a phased approach to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19," Shockey said, adding that the details for the next phase of the conditional sailing order "are currently under interagency review."
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