(4.15 a.m. AUST) -- The Government of Australia has again extended its ban on cruising, prohibiting all cruises until March 17, 2021.
The move comes just days after major cruise lines in the region elected to extend their bans on cruising into December; dates that will now have to be pushed back yet again.
"The recommendation from Government to the Governor General to extend the emergency period was informed by specialist medical and epidemiological advice provided by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) and Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer," reads a statement issued by Minister of Health Greg Hunt.
"The AHPPC has advised the international COVID-19 situation continues to pose an unacceptable public health risk. The extension of the emergency period for a further three months is an appropriate response to that risk."
The extended biosecurity emergency order includes provisions limiting the movement of cruise vessels throughout Australia; limiting outbound international travel; and restrictions on the operation of retail outlets at international airports across Australia.
The emergency orders have been in place since March 18, 2020. They are now tentatively set to expire just under a year from being first issued.
Recently, the Australian cruise industry had been lobbying the government to replace its restrictions on cruise with a domestic travel bubble that would allow Australia's A$5-billion cruise industry to restart.
The Cruise Lines International Association had advocated for a measured restart of cruise using appropriate health and safety protocols. Two local Australian operators, Coral Expeditions and Captain Cook's PS Murray Princess, had already seen limited restarts. It is currently unclear if the new extension of the emergency order will affect either line.
A statement issued by CLIA Australasia managing director Joel Katz noted the organization welcomes the extension of the emergency order by the Australian government, and that it continues to work with local stakeholders for a responsible restart to the country's cruise operations.
“Australia’s success in stemming Covid-19 has created the opportunity for a carefully managed and responsible pathway towards recovery,” said Katz. “We need to work towards replacing the existing blanket suspension of cruise operations with an approval process that will allow cruise lines to progress a phased and tightly controlled resumption in 2021.
“Cruising delivers enormous financial benefit to communities around Australia and supports around 18,000 jobs across the country,” concluded Katz. “We look forward to working with government to plan a careful revival of the country’s A$5 billion-a-year cruise industry.”
Several international cruise lines, including Cunard and Celebrity, have either postponed or cancelled their 2020-2021 seasons in Australia outright.
Cruise Critic will update this story with more information as it becomes available.