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CDC to lift 'no sail' order allowing 'simulation' cruises

CDC to lift 'no sail' order allowing 'simulation' cruises

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Friday it would lift its "no sail" order allowing "simulation" cruises to sail in U.S. waters beginning Sunday, according to a statement from the agency.

"Today the [CDC] issued a Framework for Conditional Sailing Order that introduces a phased approach for the safe and responsible resumption of passenger cruises," the agency said, though it did not say when passengers can return to cruise lines.

The agency cited recent outbreaks on cruise ships overseas as evidence that ship travel facilitates and increases the transmission of the virus, even when passenger capacities are reduced.

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The CDC underscored that allowing passenger travel to proceed unmitigated could pose significant risks of further spreading the virus into U.S. communities.

"This framework provides a pathway to resume safe and responsible sailing. It will mitigate the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks on ships and prevent passengers and crew from seeding outbreaks at ports and in the communities where they live," said CDC Director Robert Redfield.

The initial phases of the latest order will require ship operators to demonstrate adherence to testing, quarantine, isolation and social distancing requirements to protect crew on board while building the necessary laboratory capacity to test staff and eventual passengers.

The following phases will simulate real voyages with volunteer passengers to test whether the safety measures can effectively prevent a mass spread for future cruises.

The CDC first barred cruise sailing in mid-March, later renewing the order in April and July.

Cruise ships proved to be a dangerous vessel of contamination and spread of the coronavirus early in the pandemic after hundreds on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan fell ill with the virus in February.

Several ships docked outside U.S. waters faced similar complications before cases started ramping in the nation, such as the Holland America Zaandam ship quarantined off Florida's coast.