By Victor Reklaitis
The White House on Thursday backed up the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as that agency spars with cruise operators that want its approval to restart voyages in July.
Norwegian Cruise Line /zigman2/quotes/204183397/composite NCLH +2.15% aims to resume operations from U.S. ports starting July 4 , while Carnival /zigman2/quotes/202325446/composite CCL +2.53% /zigman2/quotes/210414141/delayed UK:CCL +4.67% this week extended its U.S. pause through June 30 and said it may relocate ships from American ports in order to operate again.
The CDC has indicated a summer restart is possible but issued guidance last week that didn’t specify when operators can resume sailing out of the U.S. following a long shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki pushed back on Thursday when a reporter asked about Norwegian’s effort to resume operations on the Fourth of July, the holiday when President Joe Biden has predicted Americans could safely gather at least in small groups .
“The president’s announcement on July 4 has nothing to do with cruise lines. As you know, it has to do with incentivizing, encouraging Americans to get access to the vaccine, when they can get vaccinated,” Psaki said. “So that’s more about small gatherings in your backyards, which is quite different from cruises, of course.”
Psaki told reporters it’s up to the CDC to determine guidelines for the cruise industry and then update them. She said: “I don’t anticipate that, but I would defer to them on any expectation they have of changing those guidelines. Again, they base them on health and medical experts who work at the CDC. They base them on data.”
The press secretary declined to comment on a lawsuit filed Thursday by the state of Florida against the Biden administration aiming to quickly get cruise lines operating again from U.S. ports.
“Today, Florida’s fighting back,” the state’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, said as he announced the legal action, according to an Orlando Sentinel report . “We don’t believe the federal government has the right to mothball a major industry for over a year based on very little evidence and very little data.”