Cruise lines could offer free trial voyages to test safety – Marketplace

Norwegian Cruise Line reported a $1.4 billion net loss for the first quarter of 2021, which comes as no surprise considering most ships have been docked since the pandemic began.

But U.S. cruise ships are one step closer to setting sail again. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has laid out new guidance to allow cruise operations to begin after being on hold for more than a year. One way cruise lines can qualify to restart is by conducting “trial” voyages to test the efficacy of new safety measures before paying passengers come on board.

Passengers for the test cruises must be vaccinated or prove they don’t have any health issues. They’d be on board for at least seven days, free of charge, and then get tested for COVID at the end.

College student Gilbert Escobedo in San Antonio, Texas, said he would be more than happy to volunteer. He said he’s been yearning for a relaxing vacation, and he’s fully vaccinated. “I think that now I’m feeling pretty comfortable health-wise.”

There will likely be plenty of demand, according to Assia Georgieva, a cruise industry analyst with Infinity Research. But, she said, most lines will probably not opt to do trial voyages, and instead will require universal vaccination. That’s another way to meet CDC requirements.

“It would be horrific for the industry, not just for one brand or for one company, if there was a COVID outbreak,” Georgieva said.

After all, she said, cruise ship outbreaks made big headlines last year and the companies are eager to leave those pandemic associations in their wake.

Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?

This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.

Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?

India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy begins reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

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