The US public health authority will soon release a cruise ship grading system that could help get crew home but an official said lines face a 'herculean' task to protect future travelers and crew from COVID-19.

According to The Miami Herald, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are close to publishing cruise line plans for controlling the virus while their ships are out of service, with a scorecard for each.

This applies to vessels in US waters where tens of thousands of crew are still stuck.

‘Green’ grade allows crew to travel by commercial transport

The ships will be graded by color, starting with green for no confirmed cases or COVID-like illness for 28 days. Those designated green would be allowed to use commercial transportation to get crew home.

For many weeks the US has forbidden the use of commercial transportation for anyone coming off a cruise ship, so help solve a major challenge.  

A list of cruise ship crew member repatriations allowed by the CDC since April 15 is here

Review of plans for restarting service has not begun

However, the Herald also reported CDC has not begun to review cruise line plans for resuming service before a vaccine is developed.

Global migration and quarantine chief Martin Cetron told the paper lines face a ‘herculean’ task to protect future travelers from COVID-19, comparing the risk of infection on cruise ships to meatpacking plants, long-term care facilities and prisons.