CDC eases guidelines for fully vaccinated. Can you cruise without a mask?
Updated: Jul 3, 2021
Screening of guests
On Friday May 14 the CDC again modified their rules for cruise ships operating in the US. Some of the changes are as follows. The cruise line must screen passengers at embarkation for signs or symptoms of Covid-19 and for close contact to any individual that had Coronavirus in the past two weeks. Anyone who has signs or symptoms on embarkation day and is not fully vaccinated; without documentation of recovery will be denied boarding.
If someone was in close contact with a Covid positive person in the past 14 days and is not fully vaccinated and is without ‘recovery’ documentation will be denied boarding. Fully vaccinated people may board with the cruise line’s approval.
The CDC no longer requires fully vaccinated cruisers to be tested prior to boarding a cruise ship. Passengers that are not fully vaccinated or who have documentation of recovery must be tested on embarkation and debarkation day. The CDC recommends (RT-PCR) test due to their higher accuracy. Any guest who tests positive for Covid and all of their close contacts will be denied boarding. Cruise lines must report positive Covid test results to the CDC.
Mask wearing & shore excursions
On Wednesday May 12, 2021 The CDC relaxed some of their guidelines including mask wearing. Vaccinated passengers are no longer required to wear masks outside except in crowds; however masks are still required for unvaccinated passengers. Masks indoors must still be worn indoors for both vaccinated and unvaccinated passengers including in between bites and sips. The CDC now allows independent shore exploration, however they recommend against it.
How will cruise lines enforce the different mask rules on a cruise mixed with vaccinated and unvaccinated passengers? It seems in my opinion nearly unenforceable as crew would have to ask guests or look up their vaccinated status.
I still feel the cruise industry is still being held to a different standard. On airplanes passengers can sit shoulder to shoulder. Restaurants can operate to nearly full capacity on land with three feet of distancing, and you can have your mask off at the table for the duration of being seated. The changes are in my opinion going in the right direction, but still have a ways to go to be more equitable.