The companies are controversial because they incorporate overseas and fly under foreign flags to dodge American safety, health and environmental regulations. In addition, they hire largely foreign crews to duck U.S. pay rates and unions. They have also played a significant role in the spread of coronavirus.
All the major cruise operators are incorporated outside the U.S. The companies don’t pay U.S. federal income taxes. Democrats, labor leaders and environmentalists battled to exclude them from the U.S. payouts, according to the Journal.
Trump vowed from the start to help the companies. “We’re working with them very, very strongly,” he said at a press briefing early in March. “We want them to travel.” Days later, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Americans that travel on the ships was dangerous.
Trump is a close friend of Carnival Corp. Chairman Micky Arison, whose company was a key sponsor of Trump’s “Apprentice” reality TV show.
Under new language inserted at the last minute into the stimulus package for businesses, money was restricted to cruise companies incorporated in the U.S. whose workforce is more than 50% American.
Companies must be certified as “created or organized in the United States or under the laws of the United States” as well as having “significant operations in” and a majority of employees based in America. That carves out major operators like Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Royal Caribbean Cruises, noted the Journal.
Trump reiterated his earlier wishes to aid cruise ship companies on Thursday. But he conceded that it’s “very tough to make a loan to a company when they’re based in a different country.”
Cruise ships with their crowded living situation have proved to be an incubator for the new coronavirus. Several Americans tested positive for the illness on the Carnival ship Diamond Princess that was quarantined last month off Japan. A number of U.S. passengers who tested positive, along with other returned American passengers, were treated or quarantined at U.S. military bases.
The first coronavirus fatality in California was a man who traveled on the Grand Princess, also operated by Carnival. Passengers and crew members on a subsequent cruise also tested positive, and the ship eventually docked in Oakland, California. Two passengers have since died, USA Today reported.
Last week, after a Canadian passenger tested positive on an earlier cruise of the Swiss-based MSC Meraviglia, 3,800 passengers on the ship — including more than 100 who sailed with the Canadian — disembarked in Miami with absolutely no screening.
On Thursday, 13 ill crew members from two Costa cruise ships were evacuated to Miami for treatment. Meanwhile, at least 77 people — 30 passengers and 47 crew members — aboard a Holland America ship (another Carnival operation) off Fort Lauderdale, Florida, have reported flu-like symptoms.
Cases of coronavirus in Florida are now surging, with Miami-Dade and neighboring Broward County reporting more than 1,100 cases, nearly half of the statewide total, the Miami Herald reported.
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