State Department urging U.S. citizens to avoid cruise ship travel

Posted at 7:04 PM, Mar 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-09 08:01:56-04

The U.S. Department of State issued a warning for U.S. citizens looking to book a cruise.

The State Department urged travelers "particularly travelers with underlying health conditions" to not travel by a cruise ship due to the increased risk of being infected by the novel coronavirus.

The announcement from the State Department read, "CDC notes increased risk of infection of COVID-19 in a cruise ship environment. In order to curb the spread of COVID-19, many countries have implemented strict screening procedures that have denied port entry rights to ships and prevented passengers from disembarking. In some cases, local authorities have permitted disembarkation but subjected passengers to local quarantine procedures. While the U.S. government has evacuated some cruise ship passengers in recent weeks, repatriation flights should not be relied upon as an option for U.S. citizens under the potential risk of quarantine by local authorities."

The announcement comes hours after CDC forced the Regal Princess cruise ship to stay offshore near South Florida until two of the ship's crew members have been tested for coronavirus.

On Sunday, Sen. Rick Scott was at Port Tampa Bay to address coronavirus concerns. He said the cruise industry is focused on what they can do to keep people safe.

"They’re going to come back and be talking to the Vice President [Mike Pence] about what else they can do to make sure people are safe when they get on and safe when they get off,” Sen. Scott said.

“Everybody is learning. I’m never gonna point fingers at anybody, I think all levels, we’re all learning about the coronavirus and how to deal with it," he added.