The European Center for Disease Control (ECDC) and the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) have published official guidance on the gradual resumption of cruise ship operations in the European Union during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The document released Monday comes as several European cruise lines have begun a gradual return to sailing. It also follows an earlier document issued June 30 by the EU’s Healthy Gateways titled “Interim Advice for Restarting Cruise Ship Operations.”
The ECDC, Europe’s equivalent of the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that cruise operators need to ensure that cruises do not pose unacceptable health risks to passengers, staff and the general public, in particular when compared to other types of package holiday.
To facilitate a safe restart of operations of cruise ships in the EU
It states that the objective of the guidance is “to facilitate a safe restart of operations of cruise ships in the EU, by recommending minimum measures expected to be implemented by all those concerned.”
The guidance is aimed at both European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) flagged ships engaged in international voyages and for ships calling at an EU/EEA port irrespective of their flag.
The guidance is divided into three parts: A ship management plan, a port management plan and coordination between cruise ships and ports on COVID-19 management.
The ship management plan calls on cruise companies to conduct a risk assessment and to determine the resources and personnel – including medical facilities – required to implement their COVID-19 plans to appoint coordinators responsible for dealing with COVID-19 management.
The document calls for “physical distancing” and for the use of facemasks “when physical distance can not be guaranteed.” It also calls for a review of maximum capacity to ensure that physical distance can be maintained.
Among other measures the document calls for pre-embarkation health screening protocols; easy access to hand washing and sanitizing stations; strategies for going ashore and re-embarkation, and a review of onboard heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems.
The highly technical document can be viewed here.
The CDC, which last week called for public and cruise industry input on questions related to the resumption of passenger operations aboard cruise ships as it reviews its no-sail order, will be taking a long and detailed look at the work of its European counterpart.