U.S. cruises could resume as early as mid-July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now telling the cruise industry.
Since March 2020, the CDC has blocked cruise ships that carry more than 250 people from sailing in U.S. waters.
The CDC clarified its existing return-to-sailing framework on Wednesday, allowing cruise companies to bypass previously required simulated voyages if a ship attests that 98% of its crew and 95% of its passengers are fully vaccinated.
“We acknowledge that cruising will never be a zero-risk activity,” the agency said in a letter to cruise industry officials, “and that the goal of the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order’s phased approach is to resume passenger operations in a way that mitigates the risk of COVID-19 transmission onboard cruise ships and across port communities.”
If necessary, the CDC also said it will respond to applications for those “test cruises” within five days, down from the previously announced 60-day waiting period.
Earlier this month, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the state was suing the U.S. government in an attempt to resume cruising in the U.S. after more than a year of the industry’s shuttering amid the COVID-19 pandemic.