The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that it will switch to a voluntary COVID mitigation program on cruise ships on Wednesday as COVID continues to spread throughout the country and around the world.
But “voluntary” does not mean that cruise ships will not be regulated by the CDC – whether or not they enroll in the program, according to Captain Aimee Treffiletti, who heads the CDC’s naval unit.
“(Cruise ship operators) can choose the ‘healthy sails’ option or they can choose to do their own thing, but it is very important to keep in mind that ships will still be subject to the CDC,” Treffiletti told TODAY. Friday.
If the cruise company decides to unsubscribe from the program, its ships would then fall under the command of the CDC mask for public transport and the regulatory body of the inspection agency. And cruise ships, regardless of participation in the voluntary program, will still have to report each COVID case on board, and only through a “different mechanism” than the ones currently reported.
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And if the CDC fears COVID on a ship that is not part of the new program?
“I think (we) are likely to exercise our regulatory powers faster,” Treffiletti said. “Because, you know, we won’t know what’s going on on the ship in terms of mitigation measures.”
The CDC reserves the right to issue a “no sail” order for a specific ship if the agency is concerned about what is happening on board.
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It is in the best interests of public health that the lines voluntarily join the “healthy sails” program, Treffiletti continued. She noted that the program would provide transparency regarding COVID levels on board and how the pandemic was managed, while ships that did not apply would not have to disclose how they managed COVID on board.
“There will be a lot of unknowns about the risk mitigation measures used on board, as they will actually be able to set up their own protocols for passenger and crew testing,” Treffiletti added, adding that isolation protocols and other medical measures would not necessarily be made public.
Cruise companies that opt for vessels to follow a voluntary program will follow what the CDC considers to be the “best public health standards” for cruise ships.
The CDC has not yet released details of the new voluntary program, but expects it next week.
Norwegian, Oceania, Regent Seven Seas will sign up to the CDC’s voluntary program
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., the parent company of Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, told the CDC that all its brands will participate in the voluntary program on Friday, Treffiletti said.
Frank Del Rio, President and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., said in a statement on Friday that the decision to commit to the upcoming CDC program supports the cruise company’s commitment to health and safety.
“Our adoption of the voluntary program provides guests, crew, travel partners and other stakeholders with the assurance that our brands will continue to meet and exceed CDC regulations and provide unmatched health and safety protocols not found in any other industry. space for travel and leisure, “said Del Rio.
From Friday, other cruise companies can decide until Friday whether to join the voluntary program or not. However, according to Treffiletti, this date may change.
“The CDC is committed to continuing its cooperation with the cruise ship industry,” she continued. “We hope that cruise companies will choose to follow this program because it represents the best public health measures that help prevent diseases on board and COVID transmission, as well as serious consequences.”
The CDC still recommends passengers before the ride, regardless of their vaccination status, as COVID has been growing since the Omicron variant.
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