Two U.S. politicians have penned a letter to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky urging tougher action on cruising, just as cruise industry stakeholders press for a resumption and file lawsuits against the current restrictions.
In their letter, Democrats Richard Blumenthal and Doris Matsui insist the CDC must strictly enforce safety guidance under the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) and immediately halt cruises if outbreaks occur onboard.
“We write today with significant concern about the prospect of premature resumption of cruise ship operations that could threaten public safety and increase the spread of the coronavirus,” Sen. Blumenthal and Rep. Matsui said in the letter.
On 02APR, 2021, the CDC outlined technical guidance that would allow for the resumption of sailing as part of the Conditional Sailing Order (CSO).
In addition to urging Walensky to continue enforcing the current restrictions, Blumenthal and Matsui said the CDC should also be prepared to halt cruises should future outbreaks occur on passenger ships.
“Failing to adhere to this guidance could create unsafe conditions that jeopardize public health,” the two politicians wrote. “It is absolutely critical that we listen to scientists and health and safety experts over the industry and its profit-driven executives.”
Their letter comes on the heels of a lawsuit brought by Florida against the CDC last week and new legislation proposed by officials in Alaska aiming to override the CDC’s restrictions on cruising and get ships sailing by JUL.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Inc. addressed its own letter to Walensky last week, requesting a written response to its proposal to restart US operations on 04JUL.
“It is frustrating, that to date, we have yet to receive even an acknowledgment of this proposal. I do recognize that you have many important public health issues to tend to and was reticent to even write, however, we strongly believe our proposal should be the model for how the travel and hospitality industry operates in a COVID-19 environment,” NCLH CEO and President, Frank Del Rio, wrote in the letter.
In a news release, Del Rio added: “Our proposal submitted to the CDC 10 days ago, which includes mandatory vaccinations for all guests and crew, offers a safe and immediate solution to resume cruising and eliminates the need for the obsolete CSO, which in its current form is impossible to operationalize and more importantly ignores the advancement of vaccines.”
Del Rio said the cruise company’s vaccination requirement for all guests and crew, combined with a phased-in relaunch plan and multi-layered health and safety program go “well above and beyond the intent of the CSO and would greatly accelerate the path to resume cruising.”