The cruise industry has voluntarily halted operations in Brazil to seek alignment with authorities on COVID-19 protocol as the pandemic continues to surge. The suspension will last until Jan. 21.
The Brazilian Association of Maritime Cruises (CLIA Brazil) announced Monday that new departures from Brazilian ports would be halted immediately, with current voyages being allowed to finish their planned itineraries.
“We are extremely concerned that the cruise industry’s robust health and safety protocols, developed in partnership with the appropriate authorities and which have proven effective, are being questioned at a time that they should be held up as a model for others,” CLIA in Brazil said.
CLIA Brazil’s announcement came one day after Anvisa, the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency, said in a Sunday notice that it advises against cruise travel, according to a USA TODAY translation of the statement. In a Dec. 31 statement, Anvisa advised that the Ministry of Health issue a temporary suspension of cruising in light of a rise in COVID-19 cases.
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On Monday, Anvisa reported, in another statement, that there were 829 cases of COVID-19 among crew members and passengers who sailed on the five ships that have been operating in Brazil between Nov. 1 and Jan. 3. During the latter part of that period, 798 of those 829 cases emerged between Dec. 26 and Jan. 3, a 25-fold rise, according to Anvisa.
Over the past 28 days, Brazil reported 165,021 cases of COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins data. And in the past week, the country reported 68,982 COVID-19 cases.
MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises, a Carnival Corp. line, are the only CLIA member cruise lines currently operating in the country currently, Bari Golin-Blaugrund, vice president of strategic communications for CLIA, told USA TODAY.
“In recent weeks, the two affected cruise companies and their guests have experienced a series of situations that have directly impacted ship operations, making cruise continuity impractical at this time,” CLIA Brazil said in a Monday statement. “The operational interruptions have failed to consider the effectiveness of the industry’s protocols and, as a result, has caused significant inconveniences to guests who were looking forward to their vacation at sea under the health and safety protocol.”
During the pause through mid-January CLIA plans to work with government authorities, states, municipalities and Anvisa to seek alignment on the “interpretation and application of operational health and safety protocols” that were approved last November.
CLIA Brazil has begun discussions with local authorities and the Ministries of Health, Tourism, Civil House, Infrastructure, Anvisa to discuss “open issues” regarding the application of current cruising regulations.
Contributing: Luciana Lopez