Cruises May Ban 'Travelers of a Certain Age' from Sailing Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

As the U.S. and beyond continue to try and curb cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), a cruise industry organization is proposing a plan restricting older travelers from cruise travel.

Earlier this week, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) submitted a plan to Vice President Mike Pence focusing on “prevention, detection, and care,” a spokesperson for the CLIA told PEOPLE.

“In our meeting with him on Saturday, the Vice President placed great emphasis on protecting the most vulnerable populations, which include travelers of a certain age and those with chronic health conditions, as specified by the CDC,” the statement reads.

Though the proposal did not specify at what age a cruise line could deny a passenger entry, a source told USA Today that any person age 70 or above would be restricted from boarding unless they have a doctor’s note verifying their physical wellbeing.

According to the CLIA spokesperson, the plan “demonstrates the cruise industry’s commitment to public health and safety and its willingness to go above and beyond to address the challenge facing our global community.”

As the new proposal remains under review at the White House, the organization says they will not be providing additional details to the public.

At a press briefing Tuesday, Pence shared that he and the task force would be reviewing the proposal “in the next 24 hours,” USA Today reported.

On Sunday, the State Department issued an official warning against traveling on cruise ships.

“U.S. citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship,” the statement read, noting that the “cruise ship environment” can foster an “increased risk of infection.”

The CDC also issued a similar warning, citing the “unusual nature of the novel coronavirus,” which “appears to spread more easily between people in close quarters aboard ships.”

“It has become clear that people with underlying conditions such as heart disease, chronic lung disease, diabetes, and other conditions that cause suppression of immune system particularly among older adults, are at a high risk of serious disease if infected with the novel coronavirus,” the CDC stated.

Despite the official warnings, many major cruise lines, including Carnival and Royal Caribbean, are continuing to operate their planned itineraries. Princess and Viking cruise lines announced on Thursday they would suspend trips for the next two months.

So far, two major outbreaks of coronavirus have occurred on cruise ships, both of which were owned by Princess cruise line, a subsidiary of Carnival.

One ship was quarantined off the coast of Japan in February with 621 people on board eventually testing positive. According to Reuters, seven former passengers have now died. The other, carrying at least 21 people who have tested positive, docked in Oakland on Monday. Those passengers will be quarantined on land.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic, urging world leaders and citizens to take action to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

There are at least 1,302 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, and 38 people have died, in the U.S., as of Thursday afternoon. The majority of U.S. cases are in Washington, California and New York, and all three have declared a state of emergency to redirect funding.

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