Passengers who test positive, vaccination passport setup: Here are the challenges Cruises face when they sail again

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Two passengers aboard the first cruise ship sailing from North America with paid guests were tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday, despite the ship needing a vaccine, the latest challenge to hit cruises as they begin to resume after being stopped during the pandemic due to Covid-19 transmission concerns.

Key Facts

The two passengers – who traveled together – tested positive on board the Royal Caribbean’s Celebrity Millennium ship as part of a mandatory test the passengers underwent before leaving the ship, although both were asymptomatic.

Passengers on the ship aged 16 and over were required to show proof of vaccination in order to embark on a cruise, and the Covid-infected passengers are now isolated and contact tracking is underway.

Two passengers too tested positive to Covid-19 on an MSC Seaside cruise ship in the Mediterranean, which did not have a vaccination requirement.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has paved the way for cruise ships to resume sailing this summer and issue guidelines to receive reopening approval, which either includes having 95% of the passengers vaccinated or conducting a simulation cruise with volunteer passengers to test the ship’s Covid-19 protocols.

The vaccination requirement has met with opposition in states that have adopted measures banning “vaccine passports” and blocking companies from requiring proof of vaccination – in particular Florida, a major cruise hub that starts fines on businesses that need proof of vaccination $ 5,000 per. violation on July 1, without exception for scheduled cruises.

The vaccination conflict can also be a problem in Alabama and Texas, which has both cruise ship ports and vaccine pass bans, though Texas law has an exception for companies operating under the jurisdiction of a federal agency – as cruise ships would likely be complying with the CDC’s vaccination rules.

What to look for

It has Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis sued Biden Administration over CDC’s vaccination requirements for cruise ships, and a decision is expected soon after the case was heard in court this week. Meanwhile, cruise ships have made a number of different ways to deal with the state’s vaccination ban, provided it remains in place: Norwegian Cruise Line has announced plans to resume sailing out of Florida in August and require vaccinations despite the ban – and has done so threatened to stop sailing completely out of Florida if the ban on vaccine passes applies – while Royal Caribbean has chosen to recommend but not require vaccination, saying it will limit reservations for non-vaccinated passengers. The first cruise ship to sail out of Florida since the pandemic began is scheduled to depart on June 26.

Large number

50%. That’s the percentage of U.S. adults in a recent poll by Harris who said they were confident in the cruise industry’s ability to reopen safely, the smallest percentage of any of the industries surveyed. A majority of respondents – 63% – said they would be more likely to go on a cruise if all passengers and crew were vaccinated, and 59% said they would specifically seek a cruise line with a vaccine requirement, suggesting , that Florida and other states’ restrictions on requiring proof of vaccination for cruise ships.

Key background

Cruises were an important vector for the transmission of Covid-19 in the early days of the pandemic with a number of high-profile eruptions including the Diamond Princess cruise ship, in which more than 700 passengers tested positive. CDC data published by New York Times found that more than 100 cruise ships in the United States had Covid-19 outbreaks alone, and that more than 3,000 people contracted the virus as a result, while only 15 of the 121 ships in U.S. waters after March 1 had no outbreaks on board . While U.S. cruise ships are only now resuming operations, a number of international ships resumed sailing later in 2020 – as well as smaller ships in Alaska that were not subject to the CDC’s order without sails – although several sailings were exposed to Covid-19 eruptions as a result.

Further reading

Royal Caribbean’s plan to transport unvaccinated passengers draws mixed reactions from its fan base (Forbes)

Celebrity cruises have a solution to DeSantis’ vaccine passport ban, sort of (Forbes)

Most Americans will specifically look for a cruise line with one vaccination mandate per year. Survey (Forbes)

Cruises that have just restarted and passengers are already testing positive for Covid-19 again (Forbes)

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