As the number of cases stays low, masking while on a cruise ship has become a suggestion, but not a requirement. Following the Omicron wave, cruise lines eased mask rules, meaning that in the majority of situations masks were no longer required.
The one exception was a federal rule in place that said masks were required when in “transportation hubs,” such as cruise terminals. This was the same rule that also required masks be worn when in airports and airplanes.
So a cruise passenger would have to mask up in order to enter the cruise terminal, but then could take off the mask once boarding the ship.
Now, that order has been overturned following a court order. U.S. District Judge Kathryn Mizelle of Florida overturned a recent extension of the mask rule, citing that the CDC didn’t explain its reasons for the extension and also didn’t allow public comment, according to CNBC.
As a result, instead of being set to expire in early May, the federal mask mandate is no longer in place effective immediately. The CDC posted the following notice on its website:
“As a result of a court order, effective immediately and as of April 18, 2022, CDC’s January 29, 2021 Order requiring masks on public transportation conveyances and at transportation hubs is no longer in effect. Therefore, CDC will not enforce the Order. CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings at this time.”
This order specifically named seaports as one of the examples of a “transportation hub.” In other words, without the order in place, then mask mandates in cruise terminals are set to be lifted as the CDC itself says they will not enforce the order.
According to CNBC, the White House is “is reviewing the court’s ruling and the Justice Department will decide whether it will appeal.”
However, given the public’s current attitude toward the pandemic following roughly two years, a low number of current cases, and the order’s deadline being relatively soon anyway (May 3), it would be surprising if there would be much of a fight against reinstating the rule.
At least for now — and possibly for good — it seems you can cruise without having to pack your mask, either for the ship or passing through the terminal.