The report, produced by the Global Travel Task Force (GTT), shows how international travel, including cruises, could resume from May 17 at the earliest.
Traffic light system
A traffic light system, which will categorise countries based on risk alongside the restrictions required for travel, will be set up to protect the public and the vaccine rollout from international COVID-19 variants.
CLIA welcomes report
In a joint statement, Cruise Lines International Association and the UK Chamber of Shipping welcomed the announcement to restart international cruises alongside the wider resumption of international travel, in line with the ‘traffic light’ system.
They stated: ‘This announcement is the culmination of extensive collaboration between industry, government, health authorities and ports during the last 12 months to further strengthen health measures, which now go beyond any other travel sector. The industry’s protocols have already been tried and tested as almost 400,000 people have sailed on cruises since last summer elsewhere around the globe.’
Eamonn Ferrin, NCL vp and md in the UK, Ireland, Middle East and Africa, said, 'We wholeheartedly welcome today’s announcement to restart international cruises alongside the wider resumption of international travel, in line with the “traffic light” system. Just this week, we announced our highly anticipated return to service, with new itineraries sailing Europe and The Caribbean beginning July 25, 2021, and the statement brings clarity to those eagerly anticipating return to travel and dreaming of breaking free.'
Commenting on the announcement, James Stangroom, chair, Cruise Britain added, ‘It is heartening to see that the sector has been included in the re-opening of international travel.
‘Cruise Britain’s member ports and service providers across the UK are in readiness for the summer of domestic cruising set to commence at Step 3 of the government Roadmap, and to continue to work collaboratively to support the opening of international cruise travel.'
He continued, ‘Our members include a wide diversity of ports and vital elements of the supply chain including port agents, ground handlers, stevedores, car parking and shore excursion providers, all of which have had a very challenging 12 months.’
Early May announcement
The government will set out by early May which countries will fall into which category, as well as confirming whether international travel can resume from May 17.
Key factors in the assessment of the traffic light system will include the percentage of a country’s population that have been vaccinated, the rate of infection, the prevalence of variants of concern and the country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.
This includes the removal of the ‘permission to travel form,' meaning passengers would no longer need to prove they have a valid reason to leave the country.
Restrictions for inbound passengers, such as 10-day managed quarantine, home quarantine and stringent testing will remain in place, but will apply to people differently depending on whether the destination visited is categorised as green, amber or red.
Testing remains an essential part of protecting public health as restrictions begin to ease with all arrivals, who are not exempt, required to book a pre-departure, day 2 and day 8 test before travelling.
Over 10 cruise lines have committed ships to ex-UK sailings starting this summer, covering coastal cruising and including stops at UK ports. This paves the way for UK passengers to potentially go on international cruises in accordance with the traffic light system.