By Team

MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — Federal health officials are extending the rules cruise ships must follow to continue sailing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The rules, which were set to expire on November 1, will now expire on January 15.

The current regulations, called a conditional sailing order, were put in place to help prevent outbreaks of COVID on cruise ships.

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Federal officials say after January 15, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans to move to a voluntary program for companies to detect and control the spread of the virus on their ships.

The CDC imposed the first no-sail order on cruise lines in March 2020, after most companies sailing in U.S. waters had agreed to suspend voyages. The CDC issued technical guidelines for the industry five months later and began approving trial sailings this spring.

Cruises have since sailed from Florida and other parts of the country. Most lines require adult passengers to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19.

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The CDC noted on Twitter that since it first issued restrictions on sailing, cruise lines have developed and implemented health and safety protocols to manage COVID-19 and have resumed cruising.

A cruise industry trade group pledged to continue working with CDC on health measures on board ships. It cited the CDC announcement as evidence that lines have made a successful — if only partial — return since the pandemic shut down the industry worldwide.

Laziza Lambert, a spokeswoman for the Cruise Lines International Association, said in a statement that, “Cruising has successfully resumed in the United States” with measures that have limited the risk of COVID-19 for passengers and crew members. She said the CDC announcement shows that the health agency and the Biden administration “recognize the cruise industry’s successful resumption of operations.”

Industry officials have complained that the government took a much tougher stance against cruising — shutting it down entirely last year — than it took toward airlines and other parts of the travel industry.

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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.) Team