A Message from Joel Katz, Managing Director, CLIA Australasia
This week CLIA was pleased to confirm one of the most important measures that will underpin the extensive new health protocols cruise lines will adopt globally in response to COVID-19.
CLIA Global President and CEO Kelly Craighead announced at the Seatrade Cruise Virtual conference that CLIA ocean cruise line members worldwide have agreed to conduct 100% testing of passengers and crew on all ships — with a negative test required prior to any embarkation. The cruise industry is the first in the travel and tourism sector to commit to 100% testing for passengers and crew worldwide.
This global commitment – applicable for all ocean-going cruise line members worldwide for ships carrying 250 or more people – represents a major step forward for our industry as we work to build confidence among travellers, governments and communities.
Backed by additional industry commitments such as screening, temperature checks, health declarations and medical reviews if necessary, the 100% testing commitment means every passenger and crew member will need to test negative to COVID-19 before being allowed to board. For crew, it will involve multiple stages of testing as well as minimum quarantine periods and ongoing periodical testing.
This global commitment represents another major step forward as we work to uphold safety and build confidence among travellers, governments and communities. It will provide a vital reassurance to health authorities as we continue to discuss the wider health commitments across the cruise industry, including here in Australia and New Zealand.
While cruise operations have been suspended, cruise lines have been using this time to develop extensive new health measures for when the time is right to sail again. This process is being guided by eminent medical and scientific experts internationally and has supported some initial cruises to resume in Europe, Asia and the South Pacific under strict protocols, and forms the basis for the health frameworks submitted to US and UK regulators in recent weeks.
Highlights of the industry commitments, to date, include:
• Testing. 100% testing of passengers and crew for COVID-19 prior to embarkation as part of a multi-layered approach
• Social Distancing. Physical distancing in terminals, onboard ships, on private islands and during shore excursions, plus restricted capacity and group sizes onboard and shoreside
• Mask-Wearing. Mandatory wearing of masks by all passengers and crew onboard and during excursions whenever physical distancing cannot be maintained
• Ventilation. Air management and ventilation strategies to increase fresh air onboard and, where feasible, using enhanced filters and other technologies to mitigate risk
• Shore Excursions: Limited to those authorized by the cruise line based on provider protocols that are equivalent to those on board the ship, with strict adherence required of all passengers
• Medical Capability: Risk based response plans tailored for each ship to manage medical needs, dedicated cabin capacity allocated for isolation and other operational measures
In addition, each CLIA ocean-going member CEO will be required to attest in writing to their implementation and will be subject to independent audit.
Singapore Announces Safe and Gradual Resumption of Cruising
In further positive news, Singapore has today announced a phased resumption of cruise from November based on their CruiseSafe certification programme, which specifies stringent hygiene and safety measures throughout the passenger journey – from prior to boarding, to after disembarkation. The initial pilot cruises will be round-trip from Singapore, with no ports of call; sailing at a reduced capacity of up to 50 percent; and only open to Singapore residents.
Here in Australia and New Zealand, we are continuing to advocate for a similar measured, phased approach to restart, and engage with governments and health authorities to inform them on the work cruise lines are doing internationally, and to work towards agreement on a phased resumption with a focus on the measures being developed to uphold the safety of guests, crew and the communities we visit.
This latest commitment to 100% testing, together with the extensive range of other health measures, will allow us to progress a responsible pathway towards resumption in Australia and New Zealand. This will be essential to support the more than 25,000 jobs that rely on cruising across the region and the more than $5 billion a year cruising generates for the national economies.
(Source: CLIA news 08th October 2020)