A notice on the CDC’s website indicates the termination of the Centers’ program for reporting Covid-19 cases on cruise ships. The CDC indicated the cruise industry has access to the tools necessary to manage their own COVID-19 mitigation programs. The notice stated the CDC will continue to publish guidance to help cruise ships continue to provide a safer and healthier environment for crew, passengers, and communities going forward.
In a FAQ section, the CDC stated the agency ended the program because it “depended upon each cruise line having the same COVID-19 screening testing standards, which may now vary among cruise lines.” The notice indicated the public should contact the cruise lines directly regarding outbreaks occurring on board ships
After unrelenting pressure from travel industry organizations and trade groups, the Biden administration on Friday decided to lift the inbound testing mandate that has been in place since January 2021. Read the rest of this entry »
The CDC on Tuesday reiterated its recommendation to wear masks on planes, trains, and buses.
A court ruling last month struck down a national mask mandate on public transportation.
In a media statement, the CDC recommended all persons aged 2 and older – including passengers and workers – wear a well-fitting mask in indoor areas of public transportation.
Prior to the April court order striking down the CDC mask mandate, the Transportation Security Administration enforced a requirement for all passengers and workers to wear masks. The most recent mandate was set to expire on May 3. But when a federal judge in Florida ruled the mandate illegal on April 18, the TSA indicated it would no longer require the mandate.
The CDC has asked the Justice Department to appeal the court’s decision.
The Biden administration’s mask mandate was struck down by a federal judge in Florida yesterday in a 59 page ruling.
As a result, the requirement to wear a mask for airplanes and other public transportation can not be enforced and the order is no longer in effect.
Only last week, the CDC had extended the mask mandate to May 2.
US District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle ruled the mandate unlawful and exceeded the regulatory authority of the CDC and violated administrative law. It is not known if the Justice Department will request an order abating the ruling and filing an appeal.
The developments created some confusion, but several airlines almost immediately announced wearing a mask was optional. Amtrak rescinded its mask requirement. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) indicated it would no longer enforce the mask requirement. “The agencies are reviewing the decision and assessing potential next steps,” an administration official said. “In the meantime, today’s court decision means CDC’s public transportation masking order is not in effect at this time. Therefore, TSA will not enforce its Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs at this time.”
Effective Monday, April 18th, the CDC has updated its Travel Health Notice system for international travel.
The new system reserves Level 4 travel health notices for special circumstances, such as “rapidly escalating case trajectory or extremely high case counts, emergence of a new variant of concern, or healthcare infrastructure collapse”. Levels 3, 2, and 1 will continue to be primarily determined by 28-day incidence or case counts.
Currently, Level 4 — the highest level – are those counties the CDC deems a very high level of COVID incidence and recommends avoidance by all travelers, even those fully vaccinated.
Prior to this change, 89 countries are on the CDC’s Level 4 list, including most of Europe.
These changes are taking place as the spring and summer travel season moves into high gear with predictions of disruptions due to airline and hotel staffing, continued concern over Covid, and the public’s confusion of travel restrictions and mandates internationally.
Despite protests from airlines and travel industry associations, the CDC has extended the transportation mask mandate for an additional 15 days, citing the ongoing risk of infection from recent surges of Covid-19 in the United States.
“CDC continues to monitor the spread of the Omicron variant, especially the BA.2 subvariant that now makes up more than 85% of U.S. cases,” said CDC spokesperson Kristen Nordlund. “Since early April, there have been increases in the 7-day moving average of cases in the U.S. In order to assess the potential impact the rise of cases has on severe disease, including hospitalizations and deaths, and health care system capacity, the CDC Order will remain in place at this time. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has decided to extend the security directive and emergency amendment for 15 days, through May 3, 2022.”
The mask mandate was scheduled to end next week after April 18th. The CDC has repeatedly extended the requirement to wear masks over the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the current 15-day extension is the shortest yet mandate extension.
It looks like the travel industry will see a positive rebound this year as the Center for Disease and Control Prevention places more travel destinations at a lower risk level.
On Monday, April 4, the CDC moved the COVID-19 status of over a dozen of countries down to “high risk” Level 3 from Level 4. At the same time, no new destination was added to its “very high risk” Level 4.
The CDC moved a total of 14 travel destinations down to Level 3. These are:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Saint Lucia
Although the U.S. was not included in CDC’s advisory list, it was also moved down to Level 3.
Per the public health agency’s definition for each level, a country under the category of Level 3 “high risk” means that the destination had recorded between 100 and 500 cases per 10,000 residents in the past 28 days. A destination placed at Level 4, on the other hand, had recorded over 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days.
The agency moved several countries down to “moderate risk” Level 2 on Monday as well. The five destinations are Iraq, Botswana, Eswatini, Dominican Republic, and South Africa. These countries recorded 50 to 99 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days.
Meanwhile, Pakistan, Nepal, Morocco, Ghana, Malawi, and Jamaica were moved to “low risk” Level 1. These destinations recorded less than 50 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days.
CDC’s move to lower the risk level of most countries offers a positive sentiment towards travel today. However, the public health agency warns to travel overseas only if fully vaccinated.
For the first time in two years since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has lifted its risk advisory for cruises, indicating that while their suspension of the advisory does not mean there is no risk of Covid-19 infection onboard, cruise travel will no longer carry a CDC risk warning.w
CLIA issued a statement applauding the CDC’s removal of the risk warning and reiterated the stance that the move recognizes the effective public health measures in place on cruise ships helps to level the playing field, between cruise and similarly situated venues on land, for the first time since March 2020.
The cruise industry, caught up in a series of unfortunate infection outbreaks at the beginning of the pandemic, often expressed frustration at the unfavorable attention cruising received from the CDC as compared with land-based resorts and accommodations. In reality, the major cruise lines instituted some of the travel industry’s most stringent precautions during Covid-19, requiring masks and vaccinations on the majority of cruises. CLIA’s statement went on to indicate its cruise line members “are sailing today with health measures in place that are unmatched by virtually any other commercial setting.”
The CDC is still advising those cruising to be up to date on their Covid-19 vaccinations and to consult with their doctors about any precautions if immunocompromised or at high risk.