CDC seeking public input on cruising's restart before its 'no-sail' order lifts

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On the heels of last week's extension to its "no-sail" order, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has put out a request for public input on the restart of cruising.

On Tuesday, the organization put out a notice in the Federal Register seeking comment on "cruise ship planning and infrastructure, resumption of passenger operations" and some additional specific questions related to cruising in the age of COVID-19.

"This Request for Information requests comments from the public that will be used to inform future public health guidance and preventative measures relating to travel on cruise ships," Caitlin Shockey, spokesperson for the CDC, told USA TODAY Friday.

The CDC's new "no-sail" order expires Sept. 30, and comments will be accepted until Sept. 21.

Any organization or members of the public are welcome to submit comments through a designated portal or via mail, as long as their submissions pertain to any of the 28 questions posed by the CDC.

The questions range from topics such as procedures for boarding and disembarkation to precautions on board and in communities visited to concerns over the well-being of crew and passengers.

"The questions were developed by CDC subject matter experts to inform future public health guidance and preventative measures relating to travel on cruise ships," Shockey said.

One question, for example, is: "What mental health services should cruise ship operators provide to crew and passengers during quarantine or isolation?"

And another: "What precautions should the cruise line industry take to safely disembark passengers and crew without transmitting COVID-19 into local seaport communities?"

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All answers will be part of the public record and are subject to public disclosure, Sandra Cashman, executive secretary of the CDC, clarified under the request.

Cruise Lines International Association, the leading trade group for the cruising industry, plans to respond to the CDC's request for input, Bari Golin-Blaugrund, senior director for strategic communications, told USA TODAY Friday.

"We welcome the CDC’s request for information related to the eventual restart of cruise operations in the U.S. and look forward to working together to determine the best path forward," she said.

While the intent is that cruising can restart in U.S. waters on Oct. 1, according to the CDC's order, one cruise line, Princess Cruises, has taken the extension further with plans to resume operations December.

Last week, CLIA extended its own voluntary sailing suspension extension to align with the CDC. The group said in June the suspension remains subject to additional extensions down the line.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Cruises amid COVID-19 pandemic: The CDC wants to know what you think