European Union Announces Guidelines for the Return of Cruising
On June 30, 2020, the European Union (EU) released a list of guidelines for the safe resumption of cruising following suspensions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These new measures, entitled Healthy Gateways, cover all of the measures for passengers and crew to minimize the risk of virus and disease from spreading across cruise ships. These measures include changes needed from cruise lines on reduced ship capacity, physical distancing, hygiene and disinfection measures, and protections being taken for the crew. We’ve outlined some of the key guidelines from the EU as cruise lines look to resuming operations in European ports.
Overall Essential Prerequisites for Cruise Lines
- Monitoring of the epidemiological situation worldwide, including evolving rules and restrictions
- A written contingency plan or plan to manage any COVID-19 outbreaks onboard
- Arrangements for necessary medical treatment and ambulance services, as well as arrangements for repatriation
- Arrangements for the shoreside quarantine of any passenger or crew member who had close contact with an infected party who have tested negative
- Arrangement for the shoreside quarantine of any passenger or crew member who tested positive, and is pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic after close contact with an infected person
- Adequate testing capacity onboard or pre-arranged with laboratories onshore
- Proper training for crew members about COVID-19
- A commitment to report any possible case to the next port of call immediately
- Reduced capacity to allow for physical distancing standards to be implemented
- Inspections from EU member states
Procedures Ships Should Adopt
- Pre-Boarding Screenings:
- Primary Screening - Initial assessment by cruise personnel of passengers to identify those who exhibit symptoms or signs when boarding
- Secondary Screening - A suggested secondary screening requires pre-boarding COVID-19 testing of passengers. The guidelines state that this could also be introduced by the cruise lines, however, the guidelines stipulate that testing this way can present limitations.
- Physical Distancing:
- Protection for Vulnerable Groups - Efforts should be made to protect passengers and crew that belong to vulnerable groups, which include anyone over the age of 65 or anyone with an underlying medical condition.
- Limiting Interactions - In order to limit interaction between crew and passengers, the guidelines suggest dividing passengers and crew into cohorts with appropriate numbers of people. Each group could be given scheduled times for food service, embarking and disembarking, and participating in some onboard activities.
- Physical Distancing - Physical distancing of at least 1.5 meters should be maintained at waiting areas and during boarding at transport stations by adopting special markings and controlled entry measures. When physical distancing cannot be maintained, the use of face masks should be required. Onboard if appropriate physical distancing cannot be guaranteed, the use of protective transparent (e.g. glass or plastic) panels should be considered in high traffic areas.
- Hygiene Guidelines:
- Face Masks - Face masks should be worn in cruise terminals by passengers and crew, as well as in indoor spaces onboard ships.
- Personal Hygiene - Cruise lines should provide passengers and crew with information about frequent handwashing and respiratory etiquette. Stations with alcohol-based hand rub solutions (containing at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol) should be available at all entrances/gangways to the ship, and in crew/work areas, check-in areas, entertainment venues, and restaurants.
- Cleaning Guidelines:
- Adequate ventilation - Guidelines for ventilation suggest cruise lines follow ventilation guidelines as specified by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
- Cleaning in High-Traffic Areas - This includes an increase in the frequency of cleaning in shared public areas/facilities (dining rooms, entertainment venues, etc.) and for surfaces that are frequently touched by crew and passengers (e.g. handrails, elevator buttons).
- Cabin Cleaning - During check-in and check-out, cabins must be cleaned and aired out for at least one hour between voyages. Any shared multiple-use items in rooms are suggested to be removed between passengers.
- Guidelines for Dining Venues:
- Crew loading and storing food will be required to wear masks.
- Self-service options, such as the buffet, are to be off-limits if possible. If this is not feasible, new guidelines requiring social distancing are to remain in place for passengers in these food service areas.
- Passengers should wash, sanitize hands upon entrance and exit of dining areas.
- Salt and pepper (and other non-disinfectable items) will be required to be disposable.
- All tablecloths, towels, and utensils must be washed, regardless of whether they were actually used.
To read the full list of Healthy Gateways Guidelines from the EU visit: https://www.healthygateways.eu/Portals/0/plcdocs/EU_HEALTHY_GATEWAYS_COVID-19_RESTARTING_CRUISES.pdf?ver=2020-07-01-140908-853.
Source: USA TODAY