CDC chief says cruise industry will continue COVID-19 — safety measures

Owners of cruise ships, whose visits to Alaska are a major boost to the state economy, will continue to employ safe practices to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus and its variants, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday, Jan. 11.

Despite the anticipated sunset of the conditional sail orders related to health safety measures, “we still will continue to follow, do the oversight and watch and do all of the technical assistance and support in every single way,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC director, during a congressional hearing exchange with Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.

Walensky said that the CDC anticipated that while the order will not be renewed that the cruise ship industries would continue to understand that this is a safe practice for them.

Walensky’s comments came in response to questions from Murkowski during a meeting of the U.S. Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, who noted the importance of the cruise industry to the state economy. Murkowski noted that the cruise industry was effectively shut down for all of 2020 and was able to salvage a bit of it last year, “but in fairness, the industry has taken extraordinary precautions as one industry to make sure that people are protected from this virus,” she said. With people making decisions right now as to whether or not to book a cruise to Alaska this summer, Murkowski said she wanted some assurance that Alaska communities and businesses can have a season this coming year.