Cruise lines in Brazil extend COVID-19 suspension by 2 weeks
BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — Cruise companies in Brazil on Thursday announced a two-week extension to their suspended operations after the health regulator recommended the entire summer cruise season be canceled due to the spread of COVID-19.
The association representing the two cruise companies operating in Brazil said in a statement that there will be no new departures until Feb. 4, back from Jan. 21 previously.
It said the goal is to continue discussion with authorities on measures needed to restart cruises.
Wednesday night, the health regulator issued a statement emphasizing the alarming spread of the coronavirus aboard ships, especially since the last week of December. Of the 1,177 confirmed cases of the virus identified on cruises from the beginning of November until Jan. 6 — when the final cruise ship at sea reached port — virtually all occurred in the final 12 days, it said.
The regulator’s statement noted “the spiraling increase in the number of cases on ships and in the country” and added that “the current scenario is unfavorable for the continuation of cruise ship operations.”
While Brazil is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases — as evidenced by long lines of Brazilians with symptoms seeking tests, as well as data from local governments — that hasn’t yet been reflected in data compiled at the federal level.
States and municipalities have experienced problems uploading information to the health ministry’s platforms since they were hacked last month, obscuring the virus’ spread. The ministry said this week that its system has been restored to normal.
Still, the cruise lines association said health protocols on ships exceed those of most other industries and include obligatory vaccination for guests and crew, plus the presentation of a negative COVID-19 test result before boarding.
The association’s initial suspension of activities, announced Jan. 3, followed an earlier recommendation from the health regulator and a meeting with representatives of the federal government.