Improving Outbreak Protocols: Next Iterations
CSI & CSH Online: The Virtual Event for the Cruise Community reconnected the industry by bringing the cruise interiors and hospitality communities together for one live day, 2nd September, of conference sessions and Q&A’s. The Virtual Event also provides some of these conference sessions for up to a month after the online event, meaning they can be watched at a suitable time, revisited, and studied in more detail. One of these sessions, and arguably the most topically important, is ‘Improving Outbreak Protocols: Next Iterations’. The panel for this session consisted of Joep Bollerman, Global Manager, Passenger Ship Support Center at Lloyd’s Register (moderator), Paul Mooney, Director at PM Hospitality Ltd, and Iain Hay, FRSPH, MIH, Managing Director at Anchor Hygiene Services Limited.
Setting the precedent for the session, Paul Mooney explained that the cruise industry has always tried to go above and beyond what is required by the CDC and similar organisations in regard to protocols – and is likely to do the same again when it comes to COVID-19. This is evidenced by cross-industry health advisory boards, such as the Healthy Sail Panel formed by Royal Caribbean and Norwegian. Answering the question of who should be setting industry standards, Paul noted that the industry needed a standard set of protocols and should be wary of variety, which can lead to anxieties and mistakes in different ports. Similarly, to ensure all parties are on the same page, good lines of communication are needed between cruise lines and crew, and cruise lines and passengers. Iain Hay backed this up, saying that cruise lines have a duty of care to guests and crew, but can not form robust protocols without outside support from CDC and similar organisations.
Joep Bollerman pointed out that a having a global reach and ensuring everyone has the same protocols is important – which the panel supported, with Iain noting the importance having CLIA’s eventual guidelines provided to everyone, cruise lines and supply chains, and not just CLIA members.
The topic of ship inspection was then brought up, with Iain proposing an alternative way to look at evaluation. In Iain’s eyes, the Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) from CDC needs to reassess the way they inspect ships, moving from a points-based system to instead evaluating from a perspective of risk.
Paul approached the issue of how to build trust in guests, with communication being a key factor. Particular guests may be concerned about the medical facilities on board, whereas others will be more interested in the possible dining restrictions – all of these things need to be communicated successfully, before boarding. A suggestion came in the form of mandatory information videos (similar to those on planes) in ports, and once on board in cabins. The videos would outline how to safely board and disembark, and then once on board any changes that had been made and the guidelines passengers were required to follow.
The cruise industry already has good processes in place for norovirus and other viruses, and cruise passengers are aware of the safety procedures they should be following to reduce the risks of these threats. COVID-19 is different however, says Iain Hay, and requires more advanced measures, at least for the time being. He suggests a three-tiered approach of prevention, mitigation, and management. The panel agreed that guests would be more than happy to comply with these measures, with the knowledge that following guidelines would keep them safe and healthy.
Outbreak Protocols: Next Iterations
The cruise industry is in the midst of a period of extreme change, along with the rest of the world. Conversations such as this one are key to the recovery period of the industry; sharing knowledge, ideas, and suggestions illuminates the road ahead. Make sure to watch the full session on Improving Outbreak Protocols, as so much was said that can’t be covered in this article. The session is available for a month – watch it here!