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New Regulations Announced for Cruising's Return to US Waters

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has officially announced the "mandatory core elements" of a new set of health regulations for the return of cruising in the Americas. CLIA says these protocols will allow for a safe and healthy cruising experience.

Universal mask wearing, physical distancing, COVID-19 testing, and increasing fresh air into ventilation systems are just some elements required to allow cruising in the US to return before the end of the year.

These key elements were decided upon by medical experts, health authorities, and CLIA executives. CLIA representatives also said they'd also been inspired by the recent spate of European sailings, specifically MSC.

Cruising out of US ports is currently banned through a No Sail Order from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This order was set to expire in September, but has since then been extended until at least October 31.

Data from March through July recorded a total of 2,973 COVID-19 or COVID-like illness cases on cruise ships. There were also 34 deaths. Data also shows that eighty percent of ships within US jurisdiction were affected during the time frame.

The Regulations

As for COVID-19 testing, this will be the starting point for the new cruising “normal.” All guests should expect to be tested prior to embarkation and will subject top additional temperature checks throughout the voyage.

Meanwhile, crew will be tested more frequently. They will undergo test before departing their home, prior to embarking on the ship, and upon conclusion of a 7-day quarantine.

CLIA has called testing a "critical component" of the proposed return to cruising.

Face masks will also become part of the new normal. Guests should expect to wear face masks while onboard, during various excursions, and especially whenever physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Shore excursions will now follow stricter protocols. Anyone who fails to abide by regulations will be denied reboarding.

CLIA also plans to implement new onboard air management strategies. They believe that these strategies will help "mitigate risk through increasing fresh air into ventilation systems, and where feasible, using enhanced filters and other technologies to maximize system effectiveness."

If a passenger teste positive while on board a cruise, CLIA’s goal is to disembark them as soon as possible. They hope that prearranges logistics with port partners and specific destinations will allow passengers that have tested positive to disembark safely.

Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald said that some cabins could be modified to create “isolation rooms” for infected passengers. He asserted "no fundamental reconstruction of the ships.”

"The health and safety protocols are put in place for the benefit of every single person," MSC Cruises representative Luca Biondolillo told CNN at the time.

"There can be no breaking of the rules. These people risked jeopardizing everybody else's holidays and health."

CLIA's new rules will be mandatory for every ship planning to leave a US port. It is expected that each cruise company's CEO will need to verify in writing that they've adopted the new regulations before beginning sailing again.

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