The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Robert Redfield, issued an extension to the no-sail order on passenger cruise ships until February in order to deal with the novel coronavirus pandemic. However, the White House has reportedly overruled the ban, which means that cruises could soon resume.
As The New York Times reported, Florida, an important swing state in the upcoming election, has been hit hard by the cruise industry being shut down. Yet, because the industry has seen some of the larger outbreaks of COVID-19 cases, as the CDC reported, health experts have recommended keeping ships in the harbor.
Now, it appears that the White House has overruled the decision, and some critics are arguing the move is politically motivated and could have broad health implications. However, the White House denied that the decision was driven by politics.
“The president, the vice president and the task force follow the science and data to implement policies that protect the public health and also facilitate the safe reopening of our country,” deputy press secretary Brian Morgenstern said.
The new plan reportedly allows ships to begin sailing after October 31.
Republicans and the economically important cruise ship lobby in the state have pushed for allowing the no-sail order to expire.
Michael Rubin, vice president of governmental affairs for the Florida Ports Council, argued that because other hospitality industries have been allowed to re-open, so should cruise ships.
“The Florida delegation is very supportive, and is trying to work with the administration and the C.D.C. to see what efforts we can do to get the industry up and operating,” he said. “It’s still the only industry that’s not allowed to operate at the moment.”
Like many businesses, cruises won’t look like they did before the pandemic began. Early on, the plan is to gradually reopen with crew members posing as passengers to help test the system.
Then, it has been recommended that passengers be tested before arriving at their destination and again before boarding the ship, according to Dr. Stephen Ostroff, who works for the Healthy Sail group.
Other measures, such as mask-wearing, air filtration, and fewer individuals aboard will likely be implemented as well. The plan isn’t without its risks, however, as passengers exposed shortly before boarding could test negative and spread the disease aboard the ship, Ostroff acknowledged.
It’s not the first time that the Trump administration and the CDC have butted heads over how to handle the pandemic, as The Inquisitr previously reported. Past conflicts have reportedly harmed morale among the agency’s employees.