Cruises to nowhere: Singapore looks to resume leisure travel amid coronavirus pandemic
- Singapore’s tourism board is working on a health and safety framework for cruise lines, which have been banned from docking since March
- Singapore Airlines this week scrapped plans for ‘flights to nowhere’ and will instead offer meals on its Airbus A380 superjumbo
The country’s tourism board appointed Norway-based risk management company DNV GL AS to create a health and safety framework for cruise lines that want to resume trips from Singapore, The Straits Times reported, citing tender documents related to the plan.
The company will also develop a certification programme and a framework for non-compliance with safety measures, the paper said.
Cruises to nowhere will be allowed with a maximum occupation of 50 per cent of a ship’s original capacity for the first three months.
All cruise lines must be audited and receive Singapore’s certification to sail out of its ports.
The tourism board told the newspaper that the certification aims to assure passengers that a cruise has met safety and hygiene requirements and that more details will be announced later.
No date was given for when this programme might start, according to the report.
The cruise industry has been eager to restart operations, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday extended a no-sail ban in the US by a month, to October 31, saying further action is needed before cruises can safely resume.
The CDC said data from March through September showed more than 3,600 Covid-19 or Covid-like cases on cruise ships in US waters, and at least 41 reported deaths.
The industry shut down in March after a series of Covid-19 outbreaks at sea, including one at cruise giant Carnival Corporation’s Diamond Princess off Yokohama, Japan, in February.
Even healthy passengers have suffered, as many ports turned ships away for fear of seeding new shore-side outbreaks. Tens of thousands of crew members were trapped on vessels for months.
Meanwhile, Singapore said on Thursday that it will allow entry to travellers from Vietnam and Australia, excluding its coronavirus hotspot Victoria state, beginning from October 8.
The city state last month welcomed visitors from Brunei and New Zealand, and is cautiously reopening its borders after a virus closure to help revive its airport, a key regional aviation hub.
The aviation authority has said there is a low risk of virus importation from the two countries. Travellers must undergo a virus swab test upon arrival, travel on direct flights without transit and download a mobile app for contact tracing.
Additional reporting by Associated Press