Cruises will no longer be required to follow CDC rules starting in January

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The public health rules that dictate how cruise ships can operate in U.S. waters during the pandemic will become recommendations in mid-January, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday.

Authorities replaced an earlier ban on cruise travel with a “conditional sailing order” in October 2020, which laid out steps cruise companies had to take to sail with passengers from U.S. ports. That order – which required ships to sail with at least 95% of people vaccinated or perform a test cruise to demonstrate safety procedures – was set to expire on Nov. 1.

Instead, the CDC will extend the order, with some tweaks, through Jan. 15. Those changes include new procedures for ships that come to U.S. waters after operating in other jurisdictions, new instructions for ships that want to switch from 95% of passengers vaccinated to a lower number and the end of required CDC travel advisories or warnings about cruising in marketing material.

“After the expiration of this temporary extension next year, CDC intends to transition to a voluntary program,” the agency said in a statement. “This transition will continue strong measures to detect, mitigate, and control the spread of covid.”

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