China News Service, October 24. According to the “Central News Agency” report, due to the Covid-19, all large domestic cruise ships are currently suspended. However, starting from November, Japan will allow domestic cruise companies to resume their 9-month voyages, but they will still be subject to review and compliance with epidemic prevention guidelines such as “up to half of the passengers boarding”.
According to reports, the “Diamond Princess” was infected in groups at the beginning of the Covid-19. From its return to Yokohama Port in early February, to the end of February after most people disembarked, more than 700 passengers and crew members were diagnosed with Covid-19. Japan therefore suspended all cruises.
Since then, the Japan Foreign Airlines and Passenger Ship Association, based on expert opinions and confirmed by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of the Japanese government, completed the epidemic guidelines in September.
According to the guidelines, passenger shipping companies must reduce the number of passengers boarding, avoid the “three secrets” (confined spaces, dense crowds, and close contact), and require passengers to present a health questionnaire when boarding.
Passengers are required to wear masks and take their body temperature every day after boarding. Facilities such as on-board swimming pools and large baths will also set a maximum number of visitors, and avoid physical contact dance parties and other activities.
According to the report, three Japanese passenger shipping companies have passed the review by the Japan Maritime Association and will resume navigation soon. The cruise ship “MS Asuka II” (MS Asuka II) was under review on the 21st to simulate the emergency situation of infection of passengers on board during the voyage from Kobe Port to Yokohama Port.
However, even if the voyage is resumed, since each cruise ship can only carry half of the passengers at most, and the cost of epidemic prevention measures must be spent, it is still uncertain whether the cruise company can make a profit. The three passenger shipping companies stated that they will thoroughly ensure the safety of the voyage, and the first priority is to gain the trust of passengers in the company.
The report pointed out that only Japanese domestic passenger shipping companies are currently resuming voyages. As for when foreign cruise ships can re-berth at Japanese ports, it is still unknown because the Japanese government has different entry restrictions for people from different countries.
However, the Japanese government hopes to resume berthing of foreign cruise ships after the spring of 2021, and is currently urging the International Maritime Organization and other units to formulate international epidemic prevention regulations.
The Japanese government also expects to consolidate the results of investigations and studies on cruise ships’ preparations for epidemic prevention and clarification of responsibilities for epidemic prevention within 2021.