CDC stops reporting COVID-19 levels for cruise ships, says companies can manage their own rules

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday ended its COVID-19 program for cruise ships that have reported cases of the virus, while saying ships can handle their own testing and mitigation measures.

“The CDC has worked closely with the cruise industry, state, territorial and local health authorities, as well as federal and port partners to provide a safer and healthier environment for cruise passengers and crew,” said the federal agency’s website said in an update Monday. “Cruise ships have access to guidance and tools to manage their own COVID-19 mitigation programs.”

“While cruising poses some risk of transmission of COVID-19,” the agency said, “CDC will continue to issue guidance to help cruise ships continue to provide a safer and healthier environment for cruise ships. ‘crew, passengers and communities in the future’. The agency did not release a date for the latest guidance, but an Epoch Times review of archived pages shows the update was released Monday.

Throughout the pandemic, the cruise industry around the world has been gutted by lockdowns, vaccination mandates and other government-imposed rules. Cruise industry groups have called on the CDC to end its program for months.

Health officials have often screened cruise ships and warned that ships allow widespread transmission of COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus. In early 2020, there was widespread media coverage of an outbreak on the Diamond Princess ship in Japan, prompting health agencies around the world to impose restrictions on cruises.

“An important step forward”

In a statement Monday, Cruise Lines International Association spokeswoman Anne Madison told USA Today she was pleased the rules were dropped “in favor of a set of guidelines for public health operations on cruise ships.

“We look forward to reviewing the details, which we believe will be posted on the CDC’s website in the coming days,” she told the outlet. “This is an important step forward for the CDC in aligning the guidelines for cruises with those it has established for other travel, hospitality and entertainment industries.”

The CDC has used a so-called “conditional sailing order” throughout the pandemic after first issuing a no-sailing order in 2020. The CDC dropped the conditional order along with its system of no-sailing. color-coded COVID-19 warning earlier this year, which was also praised by cruise industry groups.

Regarding mandatory vaccination rules on ships, several fully vaccinated cruises have faced respective outbreaks of COVID-19 so far in 2022.

A “100% vaccinated” Princess Cruises ship, for example, reported an outbreak of COVID-19 before docking in San Francisco, officials said in late March.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has battled COVID-19 restrictions for cruise ships, including vaccination mandates. Last year, the Republican governor promised he would take legal action to end enforcement of CDC rules at Florida ports, which are used by major cruise operators.

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Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.