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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued updated guidance regarding COVID-19 and cruise ship travel this week, downgrading its warning from a Level 4 to a Level 3 and no longer recommending that cruise travel be avoided regardless of vaccination status.
The current Level 3 notice advises against cruise travel for those who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or those who are at an increased risk of severe illness.
The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) has responded by commending the new guidance, with President and CEO Zane Kerby calling the previous warning “completely unnecessary.”
“ASTA welcomes the CDC’s action to downgrade its extreme ‘Level 4’ warning against cruise travel, regardless of vaccination status, which we roundly criticized when it was instituted. This level of warning was completely unnecessary given the extraordinarily stringent anti-COVID measures put in place voluntarily by the cruise lines in close consultation with the CDC. We call on the administration to continue moving toward a consistent, predictable regulatory environment for cruise and broader travel industry stakeholders as COVID moves into the endemic phase,” said Kerby.
“There is another shoe to drop, however. In the wake of the omicron variant, the administration issued the Level 4 cruise warning and a November 26 ban on travelers from eight countries in Southern Africa, both of which it has since lifted. It also shortened the testing window under the inbound testing rule from 72 hours to within one day of travel. As we argued strenuously earlier this month, this rule needs to be modified to, at least, exempt fully vaccinated U.S. citizens. Doing so would be consistent with the scientific consensus that widespread vaccinations are the single most important element of the fight against COVID-19 while allowing the travel industry’s recovery to begin in earnest. It would also incentivize those who aren’t vaccinated to consider becoming so, restoring an incentive that existed for a mere 28 days between the effective dates of the administration’s pre- and post-omicron updates to the order.”
Kerby and ASTA have been consistent on the issue since criticizing the CDC’s decision to elevate the COVID-19 threat potential aboard cruise ships at the start of the year, calling on the agency and officials to stop “crippling” the industry.