CDC eases mask requirements for fully vaccinated cruise passengers

FILE - In this aerial view from a drone, five luxury cruise ships are seen being broken down for scrap metal at the Aliaga ship recycling port on October 02, 2020 in Izmir, Turkey. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Fully vaccinated travelers onboard cruise ships won’t have to wear masks in outdoor settings, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Passengers and crew members who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 "may gather or conduct activities outdoors, including engaging in extended meal service or beverage consumption, without wearing a mask except in crowded settings," the CDC said Wednesday in an update to its Conditional Sailing Order as reported by

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Under the new CDC guidance, cruise operators will allow fully vaccinated travelers to tour ports on their own and can "engage in self-guided or independent exploration during port stops, if they wear a mask while indoors."

Cruise operators stopped voyages out of U.S. ports for more than a year when the CDC issued a no sailing order in March during the coronavirus amid global outbreaks. Now, the industry is slated to start up again by mid-summer.

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Passengers will once again be able to set sail by mid-July if operators can show that 98% of crew members and 95% of passengers are fully vaccinated, among other guidelines, according to a letter obtained by USA Today.

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