France, Germany Announce New COVID Lockdowns
What does that mean for cruising?
Earlier this summer, the cruise industry saw a return to cruising in Europe as an overwhelming positive. Now, four months later, both France and Germany have announced a new round of lockdowns due to rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
French President Emmanuel Macron addressed his nation on Wednesday as new COVID-19 cases have gone from around 400 per day in June to a staggering 52,000 new cases on October 25. Macron announced the lockdown would shutter nonessential businesses like restaurants and bars, but schools and medical offices would remain open. The French President cited December 1st as the earliest the lockdowns would be lifted.
“We are all in the same position: overrun by a second wave which we know will be harder, more deadly than the first,” Macron said in his televised address to the French people. “I have decided that we need to return to the lockdown which stopped the virus.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced similar measures to combat surging COVID-19 cases in her country. Nonessential businesses would close including movie theaters, bars, restaurants, gyms and more. Merkel also warned against visiting family in other parts of the country as we draw nearer to the holiday season. Nonessential travel is now forbidden including hotel stays and any other forms of tourism.
What Does it Mean for Cruising?
In statements to media outlets following the announcement by Chancellor Merkel, TUI Cruises announced their operations would not pause, citing their ships as transit, not domestic tourism. TUI restarted operation in Germany several months ago and thanks in part to an expanded health and safety protocol, have not had any issues with COVID-19 cases on board. Mandatory virus testing prior to boarding, reduced capacity ships and enhanced cleaning procedures are all part of TUI’s new protocols.
Costa Cruises has already altered their itineraries scheduled to call on French ports, instead opting to visit Italian ports only for the next few months. That news came after the cruise line banned all passengers from countries exhibiting worse rates of the virus than Italy’s current infection rate.
MSC Cruises, Hapag-Llyod, and AIDA are three other cruise lines currently sailing from European ports. No word yet on whether they will have to suspend operation due to the new lockdowns.
Many American-based cruise lines cited a restart in Europe as a sign that cruising could soon return in the United States. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, which studies how money is involved in politics, cruise lines have doubled their lobbying efforts in Washington D.C. this year. Cruise lines have employed 61 lobbyists so far this year, up from 33 last year. Those lobbyists have been in the ears of Senators and Representatives about ending the no-sail order, something it appears they’ve been successful at. The no-sail order is scheduled to expire at the end of October.
Will we see similar lockdowns in America as cases continue to rise? The United States broke their own record for new COVID infections in a single day last Friday, recording more than 85,000 new cases. The country hasn’t see a day that bad since daily cases in July spiked to over 75,000.
What are your thoughts on cruising now that the world is experiencing a sharp increase in COVID-19 infections? Let us know in the comments.