The European Union has introduced new guidelines for operations in the cruise industry in a post-COVID-19 world. These guidelines for cruises are a part of the Healthy Gateways program. The advice was published on the same day the EU excluded the United States from its list of approved countries for travel.
The EU issued various recommendations for the safety of the cruise line through the guidelines
The guidelines for cruises include numerous essential prerequisites, including written contingency plans for a potential COVID-19 outbreak. The EU says cruise lines must arrange medical treatment, enforce quarantine of any passenger or crew member who comes into close contact with an infected person. The EU also wants cruise line crews to undergo proper training, reduced capacity to follow social distancing, and adequate testing capacity onboard or pre-arranged testing with onshore labs.
Other recommendations for cruises include an exclusion policy to prevent symptomatic or exposed passengers from boarding. Special precautions should be taken for “high risk” groups such as people over the age of 65 or those with underlying conditions. A pre-travel fitness assessment and separate onboard activities can limit interaction with others. Cruise lines should test all passengers for COVID-19 before boarding and return with short voyages ranging from three to seven days, featuring limited ports of call.
Face masks, hand-sanitizer stations, enhanced ventilation, along with the removal of cabin items that cannot be easily disinfected are also mentioned in the latest EU guidance. Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) calls this an “important marker” for the potential resumption of cruising in Europe. Guidance for the resumption of cruising in the United States could look similar to Europe, as CLIA has confirmed its member cruise lines will only resume operations with protocols implemented with input from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.