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US no-sail order set to extend through October: Axios

The US no-sail order for cruise ships is expected to be extended through October, Axios reports.

The news leaked from a White House coronavirus task force briefing on Tuesday, the day before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's current no-sail order was to expire.

According to Axios, the White House overruled CDC Director Robert Redfield, who had pressed for the order to be extended through February.

Matches CLIA's voluntary time frame

The end of October matches Cruise Lines International Association's earlier voluntary suspension of operations to/from the US

Axios said cruise industry leaders would be meeting with the Trump administration on Friday to outline their plans to mitigate risk and ensure public health. 

Last week the scientists and public health experts on the Healthy Sail Panel assembled by Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings released 74 best practices to protect the public health and the safety of passengers, crew and the communities where cruise ships call, while CLIA lines subject to the no-sail order committed to 100% testing of passengers and crew for COVID-19, mask-wearing and other practices.  

Rising concern about economic impact

The CDC had just closed its public comment period about cruise ship operations on Sept. 21, receiving more than 4,000 comments. As the possibility of a no-sail extension through year's end loomed, some of the many workers and businesses that depend on the cruise industry for their livelihoods had grown increasingly concerned and outspoken about the loss of income and jobs.

Florida focus

Earlier this month Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio of Florida, a key battleground state in the upcoming US presidential election, introduced the Set Sail Safely Act to spark the changes needed, they said, to allow for cruise lines and ports to resume operations.

The bill would establish a Maritime Task Force, in coordination with a Private Sector Advisory Committee, to address the related health, safety, security and logistical issues. The Set Sail Safely Act would require federal agencies, led by the Department of Homeland Security, to work together with input from private sector stakeholders to develop a plan for the safe resumption of cruising.

Federal Maritime Commissioners recently briefed Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf about how COVID-19 was impacting the cruise industry and issued a report detailing the significant effects in Florida specifically.

A worker-led protest at PortMiami took place Monday, with longshoremen and others pleaing 'Let us go to work today,' and over the weekend, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez issued a statement asking the CDC to not extend the order. The County Commission had earlier passed a resolution urging CDC to expedite and conclude any analysis necessary for the establishment of the public health guidance required to resume cruise travel.


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