(The Hill) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced this week that it would be ending its monitoring program for COVID-19 cases on cruise ships.
In a brief statement published on its COVID-19 guidance for cruise ship travel, the CDC said its “COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships is no longer in effect.”
“CDC will continue to publish guidance to help cruise ships continue to provide a safer and healthier environment for passengers, crew and communities going forward,” the agency added.
The CDC acknowledged that cruise ships still “pose some risk of COVID-19 transmission,” but stated that ships now have “access to guidance and tools to manage their own COVID-19 mitigation programs.”
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, cruise ships have garnered a high degree of scrutiny as health authorities warned the large vessels could harbor and spread the virus, especially as thousands of guests and workers shared cramped spaces.
Cruise ship companies and municipalities that depend on the tourism that the ships facilitate have continuously fought back against restrictions placed on cruise ships. The CDC’s authority over cruise ship guidance has been brought under legal question, with its power attenuated or halted by courts at various points.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who fought back against the enforcement of nearly all COVID-19 restrictions, vowed last year that he would take all legal measures he could to end the enforcement of the CDC’s guidelines.
The CDC maintained a Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) throughout much of the pandemic after having initially issued a no-sail order at the start of the outbreak. The CSO ended at the beginning of this year and in March the CDC dropped its tiered COVID-19 warning system.