The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shot down calls from the cruise industry to allow business to restart in July, saying it would stick to its original plan of letting cruises resume in November.
USA Today reported that the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) asked the CDC to lift its "framework for conditional sailing order" in order to allow cruise ship sailing to resume in July.
"The outdated CSO [framework for conditional sailing order], which was issued almost five months ago, does not reflect the industry’s proven advancements and success operating in other parts of the world, nor the advent of vaccines, and unfairly treats cruises differently," Kelly Craighead, president and CEO of CLIA, said.
CLIA pointed out that the CDC has not issued further guidance since its last order in October, despite saying it would do so. The cruise organization argued that the cruise industry was experiencing unfair treatment, claiming it is the only sector of the U.S. economy that is still shut down.
CDC spokeswoman Caitlin Shockey said the current order would remain in place until Nov. 1 and that the agency is working on what the next phases should look like.
"Returning to passenger cruising is a phased approach to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19," Shockey said. "Details for the next phase of the CSO are currently under interagency review."
Companies have announced the resumption of cruises in other parts of the world. Royal Caribbean in early March announced it would hold a "fully vaccinated" cruise. The cruise line's newest ship, Odyssey of the Seas, is set to launch from Haifa, Israel, for the first time in May.
Several cruise ships became coronavirus hot spots early in the pandemic, as the virus spread quickly in the contained spaces. Some were forced to remain docked in quarantine, and in one high-profile case, the U.S. Coast Guard initially didn't allow the Coral Princess to dock after it reported dozens of cases on board.
The close quarters in cruise ships increase the risk of spreading infectious diseases, and Martin Cetron, the director of the division of global migration and quarantine for the CDC, told USA Today that the risk of spreading disease continues when passengers disembark.
"It's quite clear this is a formula for accelerated introduction, transmission and then accelerated spread," Cetron said.