Australia’s Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt announced the extension of the ban on entry of cruise ships within Australia until June 17. This three-month extension will make the human biosecurity emergency period last for 15 months already. The biosecurity emergency was introduced on March 18, 2020. It was supposed to end by December 17 but it was extended until March 17 before its latest extension.
Hunt called the COVID19 situation abroad an “unacceptable health risk” for Australia. He also said that the extension of the ban will mitigate the risks for everyone’s safety. Cruise Line International Association and Australasian spokesman Joel Katz thinks that Australia did a “remarkable job” managing COVID19 spread in the country and respects the decision to extend the ban on cruise ships entering the country.
Katz however expressed his disappointment on the extended ban without any “pathway for the return of cruising”. He believed that “there is a pathway for the phased and tightly controlled return of domestic cruising”. In addition to this, Katz believes that this could benefit regional communities as well as industries relying on the cruise industry. He mentioned that since Australia has no community transmission, this could’ve been an opportunity to promote domestic tourism.
Among those that could benefit from the said domestic cruise include local-tourism related industries and even local farmers where the cruise industry procures their produce. Katz said that “the ships based in Australia do their purchasing here”.
Cruise Industry’s Safe Plan
Royal Caribbean already announced that it is going to resume sailing in Israel for vaccinated passengers. In addition to this, Royal Caribbean is traversing Singapore and Taiwan for several months now. Since July, the cruise industry has catered to 350,000 passengers on more than 400 sailings on 25 cruise line ships.
Right now, the cruise industry is pleading with Australian authorities to let them sail off again. Katz said that they submitted the COVID-safe plans used around the globe. These are practices that allowed cruise ships to safely tour despite the pandemic.