Two cruise industry powerhouses announced the formation of a new joint effort to develop a response to coronavirus. Royal Caribbean Group (Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara & Silversea) and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (Norwegian, Oceania & Regent Seven Seas Cruises) announced the blue-ribbon task force will be headed by Mike Leavitt, former Utah governor, and Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.
Other panel members are globally recognized experts from public health, biosecurity, infectious disease, hospitality and maritime operations. The group is charged with developing procedures to prevent the spread of any disease onboard, not just coronavirus.
The group has met twice so far and has set up smaller working groups to tackle various issues and topics. Dr. Gottlieb said, “We know that the public health issues that must be addressed are complex, and in some areas, tackling them will require novel approaches. Our goal in assembling this team of leading experts was to develop best practices that can improve safety and provide a roadmap for reducing the risks of COVID-19.”
The work of the joint group will be "open source" and shared with other cruise lines. Frank Del Rio, president and CEO, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. said while the cruise lines compete for vacationing customers, they don't compete on health and safety standards.
The joint group's recommendations will be submitted to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other regulators. The goal is to have final recommendations in place by the end of August.
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