CDC is lifting cruise ban in US waters -- but it's 'conditional'
By Forrest Brown and Lauren Mascarenhas, CNN
(CNN) -- If you're one of those people who have been eagerly awaiting the chance to take a cruise out of US ports, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention released a bit of good news for you on Friday.
The CDC said it's letting its no-sail order for cruise ships in US waters expire on Saturday. In its place, the CDC has issued a "Framework for Conditional Sailing Order for Cruise Ships" that starts on Sunday, November 1.
But that doesn't mean lots of ships full of passengers will be sailing like it's 2019 starting next week -- the keyword in this order is "conditional."
The order is a first cautious step toward the resumption of cruising in an industry that has been devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic since the no-sail order was placed March 14.
Friday's order applies to cruise ships with the capacity to carry at least 250 passengers.
Crew members first
The first phase of this effort focuses not on passengers but crew members, who would be allowed to disembark from ships in territorial waters of the United States.
The phased return begins while cruise ship operators build lab capacity to test crew members and future passengers. Companies must show they adhere to testing, social distancing, quarantining and isolating requirements when necessary.
Later phases involves "mock voyages," with volunteers playing the role of passengers to test virus mitigation strategies on trips. Once ships have met certain requirements, they will be certified to begin operations with real passengers.
"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," CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said in a statement.
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