CDC Issues New Guidelines for Passenger Screenings
The Center for Disease Control issued additional guidance for cruise line operators wishing to restart operations in the U.S. These new guidelines apply to test cruises as well as passenger cruises while the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) is in effect. This new update released covers passenger screenings protocols.
New terminology introduced in this update specifically says that all cruise ship operators must screen passengers for signs of COVID-19, as well as screen for known contact exposure for a person with the virus within the past 14 days.
If a passenger exhibits signs or symptoms of COVID-19, if they are not fully vaccinated and without documentation of recovery, the cruise line must deny the passenger boarding. If the passenger is fully vaccinated they may board at the operator's discretion. Boarding is also under the line’s discretion if the passenger can present documentation of recovery and embarkation day test is negative by viral test.
Passengers who have a known close contact to exposure within the past few days can be denied boarding if not fully vaccinated or without documentation of recovery. Operators may allow boarding if the passenger is fully vaccinated or with documentation of recovery from COVID-19 and asymptomatic.
Documentation of recovery is defined by the CDC as a paper (or electronic) copy of a guest's previous viral test dated no more than 90 days prior and a signed letter (with official letterhead) from a licensed healthcare provider stating that the traveler has been cleared to end isolation and therefore can travel.
This update also provided new guidelines for travelers going on back-to-back cruises. Fully vaccinated passengers do not need to be tested on embarkation day, disembarkation day, or even going on a back-to-back sailing. For the unvaccinated, they will need to take a viral test for embarkation day, disembarkation day, as well as if doing back-to-back cruises.
Just last week the CDC issued new updates for vaccinated passengers relaxing mask-wearing guidelines and shore excursion rules. Under this guidance, vaccinated guests are now allowed to gather outside on a ship without wearing a mask except in crowded situations. It also allows fully vaccinated guests to travel freely or with a third-party tour provider while visiting a port. Cruise Lines are currently in Phases 2B and 3 of the CSO.