CDC Issues New Guidance for Simulated Test Cruises
Today, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) released new guidelines for Phases 2B and 3 of the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order (CSO). This new guidance specifically includes the technical instructions for simulated volunteer test cruises prior to lines resuming passenger sailings in the United States.
These simulated voyages are to be a part of the cruise line’s COVID-19 Conditional Sailing Certificate Application, however, cruise lines can still be eligible for resuming sailing in the U.S. without conducting these tests by following specific guidelines issued by the CDC.
"With the issuance of these next two phases, cruise ship operators now have all the necessary requirements and recommendations they need to start simulated voyages before resuming restricted passenger voyages and apply for a COVID-19 conditional sailing certificate to begin sailing with restricted passenger voyages," said the CDC in its posting of the technical instructions to its website.
This technical guidance covers the following parts of simulated voyages: eligibility and requirements for conducting a simulated voyage, guidance for inspections of cruise ships conducted by CDC during simulated and restricted passenger voyages, and operational procedures to assist cruise ship operators in mitigating the risk of spreading COVID-19.
The following will be required by the CDC for simulated cruises as it relates to ship capacity and volunteer requirements:
- Simulated cruises will have at least 10% passenger capacity and can last between two to seven days.
- Volunteers must be 18 years or older.
- Passengers must be able to present proof of COVID-19 vaccine OR if not fully vaccinated, written documentation from a health care provider or must self certify that they aren't at a heightened risk for COVID-19.
- Each volunteer must also be evaluated for COVID-19 symptoms prior to embarkation and after disembarkation, along with an agreement to be tested for COVID-19 three to five days following the sailing.
As reported last week, in a letter from the CDC to cruise line leaders the organization states that cruise lines can opt-out of these simulated voyages and what will be required instead of these tests. In today’s announcement, the CDC provided the following technical guidance, “In lieu of conducting a simulated voyage, cruise ship operator responsible officials, at their discretion, may sign and submit to CDC an attestation under 18 U.S.C. 1001 that 98 percent of crew are fully vaccinated and submit to CDC a clear and specific vaccination plan and timeline to limit cruise ship sailings to 95 percent of passengers who have been verified by the cruise ship operator as fully vaccinated prior to sailing.”
At least one test sailing will be required for each ship for cruise lines that don't meet the vaccination requirement.
This is a breaking news story. We will continue to update as new information is announced.
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