Passengers setting sail again out of the U.S. is on the horizon.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday issued new guidance for cruise operators to move toward resuming operations with guidelines for test voyages where travelers could volunteer before operators reopen for business.
“With the issuance of these next two phases, cruise ship operators now have all the necessary requirements and recommendations they need to start simulated voyages before resuming restricted passenger voyages and apply for a COVID-19 conditional sailing certificate to begin sailing with restricted passenger voyages,” the CDC said on its website.
The announcement follows the agency targeting mid-July for when the cruise industry will be able to get up and running again following an industry-wide closure amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The CDC, in October, put out a Conditional Sailing Order for cruise ships detailing a phased plan for bringing back passengers on board ships safely. And after major revenue losses, last week the CDC said if operators can show proof that 98% of crew members and 95% of travelers are fully vaccinated they could resume by mid-summer.
HOLLAND CRUISE LINE ANNOUNCES RETURN TO SEA
Volunteers for the trial cruises must adhere to a COVID-19 health screening before the trip and agree to be tested three to five days after the cruise. Passengers for the test voyages must be 18 years old or older. Passengers must wear face masks on board and practice social distancing.
The guidance does note, however, that if 98% of crew members are fully vaccinated, and 95% of passengers are vaccinated, cruise companies do not need to conduct a test sail.
Port Canaveral in Florida became the first port to start distributing COVID-19 vaccines, officials announced earlier this week.
The Associated Press contributed to this report