New framework lays out plan to get Britain cruising again

Finally, a new dawn? (Picture: Shutterstock)

Update: On October 6, CLIA lines committed to testing all passengers and crew on ocean ships above 250 guests and refusing boarding to anyone testing positive.

A framework to get Britain cruising again has been produced by the UK Chamber of Shipping after six months of working with cruise lines and health experts. 

It has been submitted to the government in the hope of allowing a gradual return to sea holidays when safe to do so – and restarting an industry that employs more than 88,000 people in the UK and generates £10billion for the economy.

Under the plans, embarking passengers will be asked to fill out a health questionnaire and will have their temperature taken at the port. Anyone suspected of having coronavirus will be given a secondary screening that might include an interview, medical examination, second temperature check and possibly a Covid-19 test. Passengers who fail the secondary screening will be denied boarding. 

Face coverings should be worn at the terminal, and on board when it is not possible to keep social distance. There will also be fewer people on ships to allow for social distancing and free up spare cabins to isolate suspected cases.

On dining, passengers will have to pre-book tables and sit only with their household or travelling group. Meals and drinks will be served at the table by waiters wearing protective gear.

As for shows, ‘the entertainment programme will be adapted to minimise risks during events’, the framework adds.

Passengers will be encouraged to spend more time on deck. Loungers, chairs and tables will be spaced out and towels placed over the whole sunbed. The towels will be cleaned and disinfected after use. 

Separate risk assessments will be carried out on hot tubs, whirlpool spas, spa pools, saunas and steam rooms.

Laundrettes may be closed and passengers advised to bring enough clothes for the whole trip.

On shore excursions, guests will be required ‘to follow health protection measures, including social distancing, use of face coverings, and hand hygiene. You may also be subject to local health requirements. Operators may also request that if you are going on a shore excursion to wear face coverings, even if it is not a local requirement.’

Cruise lines must have a written contingency plan to prevent and control coronavirus transmission on board. Each ship will have a contingency plan coordinator. 

If someone shows symptoms, they and their immediate close contacts will be isolated until test results come through. Close contacts over the previous two days will also be traced.

After passengers check out, all cabins will be thoroughly cleaned, disinfected and ventilated.

See the full document here

UK Chamber of Shipping chief executive Bob Sanguinetti said: ‘The cruise sector is a vital part of the UK economy. This new framework gives the government, passengers, crew and operators the confidence that the very latest science and medical advice has been included in the industry’s planning process. 

‘A huge amount of time and effort has gone into this work and the new documents, which are fully supported by the sector, are a testament to the commitment of all concerned to protect the health and well-being of cruisers, seafarers and the public. 

‘We are not talking about restarting the sector tomorrow, but it is a vital first step in the process to get cruises sailing again when conditions allow and government guidance changes.’

Maritime minister Robert Courts welcomed the new guidance, adding: ‘Our cruise industry has been hit hard by Covid-19 and the government has worked alongside the sector to prepare for a safe and successful restart. This industry framework puts passengers and workers at its heart and is an important step forward to allow cruises to prepare to set sail when safe to do so.’

Andy Harmer, director of the industry body CLIA UK and Ireland, said: ‘This is the culmination of extensive dialogue and collaboration by representatives from across the maritime sector working together with government and national health authorities. 

‘The rigour and detailed planning that has gone into these framework documents demonstrates the commitment of the cruise industry to caring for public health and upholding a robust and uniform set of safety measures. The industry is taking the necessary steps to be ready to restart in the UK when the time is right.’

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