Cruise operators could restart sailings out of the U.S. by mid-July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, paving the way to resume operations that have been suspended for longer than a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The CDC, in a letter to cruise-industry leaders Wednesday evening, also said cruise ships can proceed to passenger sailings without test cruises if they attest that 98% of crew members and 95% of passengers are fully vaccinated. The move was a result of twice-weekly meetings with cruise representatives over the past month, the agency said.
Under the conditional-sail order put in place in October, cruise operators were required to conduct test cruises and apply for a certificate at least 60 days before offering passenger cruises. The CDC on Wednesday said it would now review and respond to applications for simulated voyages within five days.
The CDC also loosened testing and quarantine requirements for passengers and crew. For the first passenger voyages out of the U.S., fully vaccinated people can now take a rapid test upon embarkation instead of a polymerase chain-reaction test, the CDC said. Passengers will be able to quarantine at home if they are within driving distance, the agency added.
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