The Italian cruise industry will soon set sail after months of shutdown due to the coronavirus outbreak. And this despite the threat of a second wave and the increased risk of a “cluster” in this type of tourist activity.
The cruise giant MSC Cruises announced on Monday that it would resume its activities as of August 16, with two departures from Italy: on August 16 from Genoa (north-west), and on August 29 from Bari (south ).
After weeks of uncertainties, the group thus becomes the first to resume its trips to the Mediterranean, a relief for this sector of activity "fundamental to the Italian economy", according to the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
" We are ready "
The Italian government adopted a decree on Friday evening containing several measures to revive the country's economy. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte thus announced for the occasion “the restart of cruise ships from August 15. "
"After months of confinement [...] people obviously want to travel again," MSC spokesperson Michele Curatolo commented to AFP, who assures us that the company has received "many calls" to resume its operations. cruises.
"We are ready, we have worked very hard", assured the boss of MSC Cruises Gianni Onorato last week, during a press conference to present the new health protocols on board the group's ships.
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MSC has suspended until October its other cruises in the rest of the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, Asia and northern Europe.
Costa Cruises, the competitor of MSC Cruises, for its part had said "to work on planning the gradual resumption of its cruises". Its website shows two departures, August 15 from Savona (north-west), and August 16 from Venice (north), which are not yet confirmed.
53,000 jobs and 14.5 billion euros
The Mediterranean is the focus of many expectations because of the relative respite that Europe has enjoyed since the start of the summer in terms of the pandemic, with the reopening of the six main Greek ports on August 1.
Italy had suspended its cruises in March due to the epidemic of the new coronavirus. The sector weighs 14.5 billion euros in Italy, for about 53,000 jobs, according to the International Association of Cruise Lines (CLIA).
Since the start of the pandemic, several international cruise ships have found themselves stranded at sea with many infected passengers, banned from docking by local authorities, especially in Japan, California and Italy.
Coronavirus: the logbook of a quarantined passenger on a ship in Japan
A tragic example: that of the Diamond Princess and its 4,000 passengers on board, who remained in quarantine throughout February off the coast of Japan, with a number of contaminations which peaked at 700.
According to John Hopkins University, more than 3,000 people have been infected and 73 have died on board 48 cruise ships, from the first cases until June 11.