A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) order, unveiled on Jan. 29, will likely require all passengers onboard cruise ships to wear masks while sailing once the cruise industry returns to sailing in North America.
The order, which can be found in full here, was issued late on Friday and requires all travelers “into, within, or out of the United States” traveling by “airplane, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, and ride-shares” to wear a face mask.
The news wasn’t known other than it’s extension to the cruise industry—the plan for a mask requirement for planes, trains, and airports had already been unveiled, but the order’s text on Friday included ships and ferries, bridging it into the cruise industry.
While most cruise lines had expected to require face coverings in public spaces on cruise ships upon their return to sailing, the order will make it a requirement for guests once those sailings do get started.
The order includes everyone not in a private setting on public transportation and exempts those who are “eating, drinking, or taking medication, for brief periods” along with children under the age of two.
“Requiring masks on our transportation systems will protect Americans and provide confidence that we can once again travel safely even during this pandemic. Therefore, requiring masks will help us control the pandemic and aid in re-opening America’s economy,” Dr. Martin S. Cetron, the director of the CDC’s division of Global Migration and Quarantine, said in the order.
The order also places the burden of enforcement on the “operators” traveling into or within the United States, meaning cruise lines will most likely be tasked with enforcing the order onboard sailings.
Other travel operators outside of the cruise segment, including airlines, have already had to come up with their own enforcement plans for guests, including Alaska Airlines, which has implemented a “yellow card” system for passengers, and Delta Air Lines. And cruise lines operating in Europe have already been successful sailing with a mask mandate onboard as part of their plan to return to sailing while keeping guests and crew members safe.