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October 30, 2020updated 02 Nov 2020 9:42am

UK maritime minister says cruises might restart soon

Cruises around the UK might restart soon after months of inactivity due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the UK Minister for shipping and aviation Robert Courts has announced.

By Ilaria Grasso Macola

Cruises around the UK might restart soon after months of inactivity due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the UK Minister for shipping and aviation Robert Courts has announced.

During a forum organised yesterday by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), Courts announced that the government’s Global Travel taskforce – established in early October to support the travel industry’s recovery – was looking into an industry reopening.

He also said that he was aware of the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the cruise industry, wrote the Telegraph.

“I can confirm that the cruise restart will be considered as part of the [Global Travel] taskforce and my officials, and I will continue to support the case for a safe resumption as soon as it is safe to do so,” he was reported as saying.

During the event, cruise line operator Carnival UK chairman David Dingle had petitioned for the government to lift its advice against cruise travelling, which is currently discouraged by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

In his speech, Dingle asked the government to let the industry show that it’s following the highest health and safety standards, putting the safety of passengers and crew first.

“[Cruise] is the only means of transport which is covered by a Foreign Office travel advisory – we’re being treated as a destination,” he said.  “But if you treat [cruising] as a destination, give us a travel corridor. If you’re treating us as a means of transport, treat us like any other means of transport.

“We’re bringing all the appropriate pressure that we can, working very, very hard among politicians, within parliament, within government to persuade the Foreign Office that now is the time to get moving and to get this advisory lifted.”

“We have worked incredibly hard to agree to this Framework, and we are now asking that the FCDO updates its travel advice to remove the specific advice against cruises, bringing us into line with the rest of the transport industry, so that customers can book with confidence again and cruises can resume at the right time and with enhanced protocols designed to protect the health and wellbeing of guests, crew and the communities visited,” added CLIA UK & Ireland director Andy Harmer.

Contributing £10bn per year to the British economy and sustaining 88,000 jobs, cruising is considered as a vital industry in the country.

To start its recovery process, on 2 October CLIA and the UK Chamber of Shipping published three framework documents, directing cruise ship operators towards the enhancement of public health protection measures.

Measures include having isolation and quarantine wards on ships as well as a stronger collaboration with national authorities.

“This new UK Chamber of Shipping framework gives the government, passengers, crew and operators the confidence that the very latest science and medical advice has been included in the industry’s planning process,” commented UK Chamber of Shipping chief executive Bob Sanguinetti at the time. “It is a vital first step in the process to get cruises sailing again when conditions allow and government guidance changes.”

“Our cruise industry has been hit hard by Covid-19 and the government has worked alongside the sector to prepare for a safe and successful restart,” added Courts.

“This industry framework puts passengers and workers at its heart and is an important step forward to allow cruises to prepare to set sail when safe to do so.”

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