While Canada’s minister of transport, Marc Garneau has extended measures prohibiting cruise ships (carrying over 100 overnight passengers) from operating in Canadian waters until Feb. 28, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) appears ready to ease restrictions, announcing what it describes as a “framework for a phased resumption of cruise ship passenger operations.”
Garneau announced that “given the ongoing situation with COVID-19,” the measures pertaining to cruise ships and pleasure craft until February 28, 2021.
And that means that:
- Cruise ships with overnight accommodations carrying more than 100 people continue to be prohibited from operating in Canadian waters.
- All other passenger vessels must continue following provincial, territorial, local and regional health authority guidance.
- Passenger vessels carrying more than 12 people continue to be prohibited from entering Arctic coastal waters, including Nunatsiavut, Nunavik and the Labrador Coast.
- Adventure-seeking pleasure craft also continue to be banned in Arctic waters.
Essential passenger vessels, such as ferries and water taxis, should continue following federal guidance and provincial, territorial, local and regional protocols, as well as mitigation measures, to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. These could include: reducing the number of passengers, ensuring physical distancing, the wearing of masks, as well as enhanced cleaning and hygiene measures.
In making the announcement, Garneau said that: “As Canadians are doing their part to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Government of Canada is working hard to ensure Canada’s transportation system remains safe.”
The minister continued: “The extension of these temporary measures for cruise ships and other passenger vessels in Canada reflects our ongoing work with all levels of government, transportation industry stakeholders, and Indigenous peoples to help ensure appropriate measures are in place.”
US Sets A Different Course
In the US, the CDC advised that “after expiration of CDC’s No Sail Order (NSO) on Oct. 31, 2020, CDC will take a phased approach to resuming cruise ship passenger operations in U.S. waters.”
It stated that “considering the continued spread of COVID-19 worldwide and increased risk of COVID-19 on cruise ships, a careful approach is needed to safely resume cruise ship passenger operations.”
As a result, the CDC is establishing requirements to mitigate the COVID-19 risk to passengers and crew, prevent the further spread of COVID-19 from cruise ships into U.S. communities, and protect public health and safety. The initial phases will consist of testing and additional safeguards for crew members.
CDC will ensure cruise ship operators have adequate health and safety protections for crew members while these cruise ship operators build the laboratory capacity needed to test future passengers.
Subsequent phases will include simulated voyages to test cruise ship operators’ ability to mitigate COVID-19 risk, certification for ships that meet specific requirements, and a phased return to cruise ship passenger voyages in a manner that mitigates COVID-19 risk among passengers, crew members, and U.S. communities.
These phases are subject to change based on public health considerations and cruise ship operators’ demonstrated ability to mitigate COVID- 19 risk.
CDC will issue additional orders as needed that will be published in the Federal Register and technical instructions that will be subsequently posted on CDC’s website.
This Order additionally announces requirements for the initial phases relating to crew testing. CDC considers adequate crew safeguards as demonstrated through laboratory testing for SARS coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19, an integral part of the initial phases prior to resuming passenger operations.