The European Union has issued new guidelines for how the cruise industry should operate in a post-pandemic world as part of its Healthy Gateways program.
The advice, which was published Tuesday—the same day the EU left the United States off of its list of approved countries for travel—includes a multitude of essential prerequisites, including written contingency plans for a potential COVID-19 outbreak. The EU says cruise lines must be able to arrange medical treatment, repatriation and shoreside quarantine of any passenger or crew member who comes into close contact with an infected person.
The EU also wants cruise lines to ensure proper training for crew members, reduced capacity to allow for social distancing and adequate testing capacity onboard or pre-arranged testing with onshore labs.
Other recommendations include an exclusion policy to prevent symptomatic or exposed passengers from boarding and special precautions for “high risk” groups such as people over the age of 65 or those with underlying conditions, including a pre-travel fitness assessment and separate onboard activities to limit interaction with others.
Cruise lines are also encouraged to test all passengers for COVID-19 prior to boarding and return with short voyages ranging from three to seven days and featuring limited ports of call.
Face masks, hand-sanitizer stations, enhanced ventilation and the removal of cabin items that cannot be easily disinfected are also mentioned in the latest EU guidance, which Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) called an “important marker” for the potential resumption of cruising in Europe.
“The primary concern of CLIA and its member lines is the health and safety of its passengers and crew,” Tom Boardley, secretary-general of CLIA Europe, said in a statement on Wednesday. “This guidance from the public health authorities in Europe provides a useful resource for cruise lines as they prepare to resume operations.”
Guidance for the resumption of cruising in the United States could look similar to Europe as CLIA has confirmed its member cruise lines will only resume operations with protocols implemented with input from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
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