Trump Overrules the CDC on the Cruise Ship Ban

The CDC wanted to extend the no-sail order until 2021, but Trump intervened

Cruise ships docked in Skagway on the Inside Passage in southeast Alaska USA.
Blaine Harrington III / Getty Images

On March 14, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a "no-sail order" for all cruise ships in the United States due to the coronavirus pandemic, completely shutting down the $53 billion industry. The sailing ban was extended several times, most recently through Oct. 1.

But according to news site Axios, CDC director Robert Redfield and President Donald Trump met on Tuesday to discuss the ban—and they butted heads over the length of the next extension. Redfield reportedly advocated for an extension through February 2021, while President Trump's administration plans to overrule him in favor of a one-month extension to Oct. 31, 2020. A formal decision is likely to follow a White House meeting with cruise industry leaders on Friday.

"And in that meeting, there will be a discussion, and afterward, a decision will need to be made about whether the order needs to be extended. These things can be extended for a month, and then we can reassess the conditions on an ongoing basis," a White House official told Axios.

Axios' report indicates that President Trump's overruling might be related to the upcoming presidential election: "Public health officials have privately complained that the thwarting of Redfield on the cruise ship ban is politically motivated because the industry is a major economic presence in Florida—a key battleground state where the polls are statistically tied."

If President Trump does extend the no-sail order for just one month, it's still very likely that he'll do so again before it expires on Oct. 31. Travel restrictions have frequently been extended throughout the pandemic.

And there's the self-imposed ban by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), a trade organization that represents 95 percent of the ocean cruising industry to take into consideration, too. On August 5, the organization independently extended its own moratorium on U.S. cruising through October 31. It remains to be seen whether or not CLIA will offer a further extension: cruising has already resumed in some parts of the world.

Article Sources
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  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "No Sail Order and Other Measures Related to Operations." March 14, 2020.

  2. Axiom. "Scoop: CDC director overruled on cruise ship ban." September 29, 2020.

  3. Cruise Lines International Association. "CLIA and Its Ocean-Going Cruise Line Members Announce Third Voluntary Suspension of U.S. Operations (USA)." August 5, 2020.