Report: CDC says cruises could set sail as soon as mid-July

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Cruise ships may be able to set sail as soon as July, according to a published report.

According to USA Today, cruises could resume by mid-July. The report said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent a letter to cruise industry leaders outlining the potential start date.

In the letter, among other guidelines, it was stated that ships could take off by then if 98% of the crew on board was vaccinated as well as 95% of the passengers.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava on Wednesday said she hopes the region’s cruise ship industry could make its return to PortMiami this summer.

“Well, I’m very happy that the CDC listened to what we’ve been telling them: that the vaccination is a key part of reopening safely,” Levine Cava said. “They’ve come up with guidelines that we can follow. They have said that the test cruises wouldn’t be necessary under certain circumstances, so with that, perhaps, some of the cruises can start earlier. We are here ready, willing and able at the county level to facilitate in any way.”

PortMiami Director Juan Kuryla shared that sentiment.

“There really is few places in the world that, I believe, the cruise lines would like to home port more than at PortMiami,” Kuryla said.

Officials said vaccines will be a crucial step for the industry to make a comeback.

“We have been working diligently with the lines in order to begin to try and define what the protocols and procedures would be for a return to safe sailing,” Port Everglades Port Director Jonathan Daniels said. “Today really marks a great day for us to have that level of guidance.”

CDC officials said fully vaccinated passengers would only need a rapid antigen test before boarding cruise ships instead of a PCR test.

If passengers become sick or exposed to the virus, they can quarantine at home if they are local to the port. However, tourists must quarantine at a local hotel if they come in contact with the virus.

“The industry is ready to go following those safety guidelines, and we’re very happy and excited that cruising can resume,” Levine Cava said.

Each individual cruise line must have an agreement in place with local hospitals in case of an outbreak before they are allowed to set sail, officials added.

“Nationally, it’s a $55 billion a year impact, more than 250,000 U.S. citizens are employed by the cruise sector,” Daniels said. “It is certainly going to be nice to be able to see this large-scale industry back up and going, and we feel it can be done working hand-in-hand with the lines and the health department. We feel it could be safer than ever.”

A pop-up vaccine site at PortMiami has been set up where residents do not need an appointment.

For more information about vaccination sites in Florida, click here.

Anyone with questions and concerns about the coronavirus can call the Florida Department of Health’s 24-hour hotline at 1-866-779-6121.

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