The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) extended the No Sail Order for cruise ships from U.S. ports through Sept. 30.

The previous No Sail Order was set to expire on July 24. The extension can be cut short only if the secretary of Health and Human Services declares that Covid-19 is no longer a public health emergency or the CDC director rescinds or modifies the order.

CLIA member lines had already decided last month to voluntarily suspend operations until at least Sept. 15, saying that it was "increasingly clear that more time will be needed to resolve barriers to resumption in the United States." 

The CDC reported July 16 that from March 1 to July 10, there were 99 outbreaks on 123 cruise ships, with a total of 2,973 cases of Covid-19 or Covid-like illness on cruise ships and 34 deaths. The CDC said that 80% of ships within U.S. jurisdiction were affected by Covid-19 during this time frame and that nine ships have ongoing Covid-19 outbreaks.

"The challenges described in this document highlight the need for further action prior to cruise ships' resuming passenger operations," the CDC said, adding that it supports CLIA's decision to voluntarily extend the suspension of operations. "However, because not all cruise ship operators subject to the No Sail Order are members of CLIA or have made similar commitments, CDC is extending its No Sail Order to ensure that passenger operations do not resume prematurely."

The CDC also reported that as of July 10 it has "expended an estimated 38,000 person-hours on the cruise ship Covid-19 response since March 14" and that "CDC continues to have regular conversations by phone and email with cruise lines, often daily."

The order applies to the operation of vessels with the capacity to carry 250 individuals or more, which excludes many small-ship ocean and river operators, some of which plan to resume service this summer.

In response to the order, CLIA said that the association and its member lines "remain aligned with the CDC in our commitment to public health and safety. We are also pleased that the CDC has announced its intention to issue a request for information about the industry's resumption of passenger operations. As we continue to work towards the development of enhanced protocols to support the safe resumption of cruise operations around the world, we look forward to timely and productive dialogue with the CDC to determine measures that will be appropriate for ocean-going cruise operations to resume in the United States when the time is right."

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