(3:30 a.m. EDT) -- Cruising could restart from the U.S. as soon as mid-July, the CDC announced via a letter sent to the cruise industry Wednesday night.
It is the second time in as many weeks the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has indicated a mid-summer restart, but this is the first time a timeline for any new guidance has been provided.
Exactly when the restart will happen will depend on the cruise lines' ability to get ships ready for service and their compliance with the CDC's Framework for Conditional Sailing Order.
"We acknowledge that cruising will never be a zero-risk activity and that the goal of the CSO’s phased approach is to resume passenger operations in a way that mitigates the risk of COVID-19 transmission onboard cruise ships and across port communities," Aimee Treffiletti, head of the Maritime Unit for CDC's COVID-19 response within its Global Mitigation Task Force for COVID-19, wrote in the letter. "We remain committed to the resumption of passenger operations in the United States following the requirements in the CSO by mid-summer, which aligns with the goals announced by many major cruise lines."
The CDC said it has been meeting twice weekly since April 12 with cruise line representatives to discuss the CSO and exchange information. This comes after additional guidance was released at the start of April,which led to a furious backlash from the lines and a round of talks to try to agree a timeline for the resumption. In its letter this week, the CDC reiterated mid-July was a possibility and released five clarifications for the CSO, specifically around the Phase 2 technical instructions issued April 2:
The CDC and the cruise industry have been at stalemate about the resumption of sailing for over a year, with the CDC coming under increasing pressure to allow for the safe resumption of cruising.
Cruise Critic has reached out to cruise lines and the Cruise Line Industry Association for comments and will update this piece accordingly.