The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced late Wednesday that a “no-sail order” for cruise ships will be extended just through the end of October — amid reports that an effort to keep the order in place through February was overruled.
The announcement came a little over an hour before a ban that has been in place since March was set to expire. “Recent outbreaks on cruise ships overseas provide current evidence that cruise ship travel continues to transmit and amplify the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes covid-19 — even when ships sail at reduced passenger capacities — and would likely spread the infection into U.S. communities if passenger operations were to resume prematurely in the United States,” the agency noted.
Earlier on Wednesday, both Axios and the New York Times reported that CDC Director Robert Redfield had pushed to extend the no-sail order until February 2021, given the likelihood that cruises would again become virus hotspots. But both reported he was overruled by the White House, as a result of the sway the cruise industry holds in the battleground state of Florida. Republican politicians in Florida and industry CEOs have aggressively lobbied to lift the ban, arguing cruises should be allowed to resume amid the pandemic, with new safety protocols.
The industry’s largest trade organization had previously agreed to suspend all cruises until Oct. 31, making Wednesday’s CDC announcement more of a formality. In a statement, the agency said that 3,689 coronavirus cases and 41 fatalities had been linked to cruise ships operating in U.S. waters between March 1 and the end of September.