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US extends no-sail order for cruise ships until Sept. 30

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended its no-sail order for cruise ships operating from the United States until Sept. 30.

The previous 100-day no-sail order is set to expire July 24.

CLIA lines had already paused to Sept. 15

Already on June 19, Cruise Lines International Association had voluntarily extended the suspension of cruise operations from US ports until Sept. 15 so the association and its member lines are already consistent with the new CDC time frame.

Since the CDC's original no-sail order, signed on March 14 and subsequently extended April 15 and now again, the agency said it has worked to control COVID-19 on cruise ships that remained at sea.

As of July 10, CDC said it had expended an estimated 38,000 person-hours on the cruise ship COVID-19 response since March 14 — in addition to thousands of hours invested by other Department of Health and Human Services components, other US government agencies, and state and local authorities. CDC said it continues to have regular conversations by phone and email with cruise lines, often daily.

2,973 COVID-19 or COVID-like illness cases on cruise ships

Cumulative CDC data from March 1 to July 10 show a total of 2,973 cases of COVID-19 or COVID-like illness on cruise ships, in addition to 34 deaths. These data also revealed a total of 99 outbreaks on 123 cruise ships, meaning that 80% of ships within US jurisdiction were affected by COVID-19 during this time frame. In addition, nine ships in US waters still have ongoing or resolving COVID-19 outbreaks.

CDC said further action is needed prior to cruise ships resuming passenger operations. The agency added it supports CLIA and its member lines' voluntarily extension of their suspension of operations. However, because not all cruise operators subject to the no-sail order are CLIA members or have made similar commitments, CDC extended its order 'to ensure that passenger operations do not resume prematurely.'

The order applies to ships carrying 250 or more souls (passengers and crew) on overnight voyages.

The order could be lifted prior to Sept. 30 should the CDC director rescind or modify it, or if the secretary of Health and Human Services’ declares COVID-19 no longer constitutes a public health emergency.