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Concern after cruise warning

The global spread of the coronavirus epidemic could affect the island's tourism business, the Bermuda Tourism Authority said yesterday.

However, Stephen Todd, the deputy chairman of the BTA, said it was “early days and too difficult to predict” what impact the outbreak could have on Bermuda.

Mr Todd was speaking after the United States and Canadian governments warned their citizens to avoid cruise ship travel.

A total of 22 ships are scheduled visit Bermuda next month, with 24 in May and 23 in June.

Mr Todd said the BTA was liaising with the cruise industry, mostly through its New York office. He added: “There clearly is concern for them right now. It's difficult to measure.”

A spokesman for the tourism and transport ministry said yesterday that cruise ships that want to dock in Bermuda will be assessed before being allowed to tie up.

The ministry spokesman said Bermuda remained free of the Covid-19 illness. He added: “So yes, there is a possibility that cruise lines may contact the Department of Marine and Ports requesting Bermuda be included in their cruise itinerary.”

He said officials would “gauge the safety of each vessel entering our waters and decide whether to allow entry”.

All other ships that plan to dock in Bermuda will have to meet the same standards.

The tourism ministry spokesman said the Government “continues working to fine-tune our plan”.

The epidemic had claimed nearly 4,000 lives and infected more than 110,000 worldwide by last night.

The US Department of State on Sunday warned its citizens, “particularly travellers with underlying health conditions”, not to take cruises.

The department said that the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention had highlighted an “increased risk of infection of Covid-19 in a cruise ship environment”.

Canada's top doctor issued a similar warning yesterday.

Theresa Tam, the Chief Public Health Officer, said Canadians should “avoid all cruise ship travel due to Covid-19”.

Dr Tam agreed with the US that the virus could spread fast on cruise ships “due to the close contact between passengers”.

Mr Todd said the outbreak had “already impacted islands to our south — this would be considered their high season”.

Bermuda's cruise season runs from April to November, with one ship, the Divina, scheduled to arrive in Dockyard from New York on March 26.

Mr Todd added: “In Bermuda, there is heightened activity at our borders for cruise ships and at the airport. But to the credit of our cruise partners, they have taken as many precautionary steps as they can.”

The island got a visit from Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas cruise ship last month after a long quarantine in New Jersey in the wake of suspected Covid-19 cases on an earlier cruise having led to the cancellation of its Bahamas voyage.

All the passengers were later given the all-clear. Yesterday, the Bermuda Government issued a guidance document for hotels, guesthouses and Airbnb operators.

The Ministry of Health said last Friday the Covid-19 threat was being included in plans for the coming cruise season.

A spokeswoman said all cruise lines that visited Bermuda had forwarded their passenger screening policies.

International regulations require ships to provide a Declaration of Health form to the Bermuda Government at least 24 hours before arrival.

To view guidance notes on Covid-19 from the Bermuda Government, click on the PDF links under “Related Media”

Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas visited Bermuda last month after being given the all-clear for suspected coronavirus cases (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published March 10, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated March 10, 2020 at 2:25 pm)

Concern after cruise warning

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