The Centres for Disease Control & Prevention has allowed a ‘no sail’ order for cruise ships operating in United States waters to expire.
In its place, the government body has issued a conditional framework of new regulations that cruise lines must follow as they seek to return to operation.
The order is seen as a first cautious step toward the resumption of cruising.
The sector has been all but suspended since the Covid-19 pandemic reached North America in March.
The first phase of this effort to relaunch focus not on passengers but crew members, who would be allowed to disembark from ships in the territorial waters of the United States.
It applies to ships that carry over 250 passengers.
The phased return begins while cruise ship operators build lab capacity to test crew members and future passengers.
Companies must show they adhere to testing, social distancing, quarantining and isolating requirements when necessary.
Later phases involve what are known as “mock voyages,” with volunteers playing the role of passengers to test virus mitigation strategies on trips.
Once ships have met certain requirements, they will be certified to begin operations with real passengers.
“This framework provides a pathway to resume safe and responsible sailing.
“It will mitigate the risk of Covid-19 outbreaks on ships and prevent passengers and crew from seeding outbreaks at ports and in the communities where they live,” said CDC director, Robert Redfield.
The full framework can be seen here.