WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are “hopeful” that cruise lines will be allowed to begin operating by mid-summer, according to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.
Buttigieg made the comment during a White House news briefing on Friday.
“I know the CDC is hopeful that a lot of these operators will be in a position to be sailing by mid-summer,” the transportation secretary said. “Laying out these specific kind of gates that they (the cruise lines) need to get through is a very important step toward that.”
Buttigieg stressed that cruises should resume in a “safe and responsible” manner.
“I can’t wait for us all to be on the move as much as possible,” Buttigieg said. “Airlines have one safety profile, cruise ships have another, vehicles have another and each one needs to be treated based on what’s safe for that sector.”
Buttigieg was asked what he would say to the industry leaders and governors who say mid-summer would be too late.
“We want to do this as soon as we responsibly can, but we also have to make sure that it’s safe,” he said.
The comments from the transportation secretary come one day after Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a lawsuit by the state of Florida against the CDC, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Biden Administration.
The lawsuit seeks to reopen the cruise line industry in Florida as soon as possible with COVID-19 safety precautions.
“Today, Florida’s fighting back. We’re filing a lawsuit against the federal government and the CDC, demanding that our cruise ships be reopened immediately,” DeSantis said Thursday.
Earlier in the week, the CDC added new guidelines for cruise lines, saying ships must make test voyages, implement routine coronavirus testing and develop a strategy to vaccinate crews. However, the CDC has also adjusted travel guidelines adding that vaccinated individuals can travel domestically and internationally.
The CDC has not made it clear when it would lift its no sail order.
Cruise lines stopped sailing nearly a year ago in the United States.
Port Canaveral Authority’s Director and Chief Executive Officer Capt. John Murray said the last year has been “absolutely devastating” for the entire industry.
“I commend the governor and the executive team for the state of Florida recognizing the serious nature of the downturn and the fact that we have one singular industry that’s been sidelined through this pandemic,” Murray said.