The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended into January restrictions on the cruise ship industry that were set to expire next week, citing concerns over the highly contagious delta variant and breakthrough cases among vaccinated travelers.
The CDC has allowed cruise ships to operate with conditions since October 2020, requiring masks onboard and vaccinations or testing of passengers and crew, among other safety precautions. Though the agency planned to lift the order by Nov. 1, Monday’s extension will become a voluntary measure for cruise operators on Jan. 15.
“The procedures put in place to resume passenger operations have successfully averted overwhelming onboard medical facilities and burdening shoreside hospital resources,” the CDC said in a statement Monday. “However, CDC decided to temporarily extend the Order due to the continued spread of the Delta variant.”
All foreign-flagged cruise ships that carry at least 250 passengers must abide by the order and provide the CDC access to their vessels and passenger health records upon request to ensure compliance. Cruise lines that fail to secure a Covid-19 Conditional Sailing Certificate from the CDC will be barred from operating in U.S. waters.