Healthcare

CDC lowers COVID-19 warning on cruise ships from ‘high’ to ‘moderate’

Associated Press/Bruce Smith

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lowered its COVID-19 warning for cruise ships from “high” to “moderate” on Monday as the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. decreases.

The agency, however, still recommends that individuals boarding a cruise ship are “up to date” with COVID-19 vaccines, including booster shots for those eligible and additional doses for individuals who are immunocompromised. 

“Getting vaccinated is still the best way to protect yourself from severe disease, slow the spread of COVID-19, and reduce the number of new variants,” the agency wrote in a statement.

“If you are not up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, avoid cruise ship travel,” the agency added.

Additionally, the CDC recommended that people going on cruises get tested for the virus before and after their trip, and wear a mask while on the ship. It does not, however, require that travelers wear face coverings.

The change in the warning for cruises comes after the agency in February lowered its travel advisory for cruise ships from “very high” to “high.” Since Dec. 30, the CDC had been encouraging travelers to avoid going on cruises, regardless of their vaccination status.

The number of COVID-19 cases has been on a steady decline since January, when daily infections spiked due to the omicron variant, according to data collected by the CDC. That trend has led all 50 states to announce plans to remove their indoor mask mandates.

Cruise ships became a key focus during the pandemic, with some ships reporting large outbreaks while at sea.

The Cruise Lines International Association told The Hill in a statement on Tuesday that the CDC’s decision to lower the warning level for cruise ships “recognizes current public health conditions, as well as the robust mitigation measures in place on cruise ships.”

“We look forward to the Travel Health Notice being removed for cruise ships as soon as possible, and for cruising to be recognized as setting a high bar for providing a vacation choice with [a] comprehensive set of science-backed protocols that span the entirety of the cruise experience,” the group added.

— Updated March 16 at 4:55 p.m.

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