The White House Coronavirus Task Force will review the cruise industry's plans for the safe resumption of operations in order to provide a recommendation to President Donald Trump regarding the next steps for the CDC's No Sail Order, in place through Oct. 31, the White House said.

Vice president Mike Pence
Vice president Mike Pence

Vice president Mike Pence, chair of the task force, held a conference call Friday with five cruise industry leaders as well as CDC director Robert Redfield, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary Alex Azar and Mike Leavitt, the former Utah governor and former HHS secretary who serves as co-chair of the Healthy Sail Panel, a group of experts convened by Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) that produced a report with 74 protocols recommended to enable the safe resumption of cruising.

The cruise executives were originally scheduled to meet with the task force in person at the White House on Oct. 2, but the event was called off due to President Trump's Covid-19 diagnosis. On the call were Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corp.; Frank Del Rio, CEO of NCLH; Richard Fain, CEO of Royal Caribbean Group; Thomas Mazloum, president of Disney Signature Experience; and Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Cruises.

According to the White House, Pence "highlighted the shared goal of reopening the maritime economy, with a focus on the cruise line industry safely sailing again" and praised Leavitt and the cruise line executives "for conducting an industry-driven effort that focuses on the health outcomes."

Azar and Redfield, the White House said, discussed the federal government's "support of the industry to safely and responsibly sail again but cautioned that the cruise industry would have to backstop their venture to resume operations."

In an overview of the Healthy Sail Panel's report and recommendations, Leavitt "emphasized that the industry was driven by producing real solutions without economic restraints, which did not result in market participants competing on safety."


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