The Centers for Disease Control has issued much-anticipated guidance for travelers, informing Americans that if they are fully vaccinated and wear a mask, they can travel safely within the United States. The CDC continued to urge people to avoid crowds.
A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last dose of vaccine. Fully vaccinated people will not be required to get tested for COVID-19 prior to or after U.S. travel.
Masks will continue to be required for all commercial air travel and at transportation hubs, under executive order by President Biden. People are encouraged to social distance and wash their hands often.
For international travel, COVID-19 testing will not be required prior to departure from the U.S., unless mandated by the government of the destination. Prior to returning to the U.S., travelers will need to provide a negative COVID-19 test, but there are no requirements to self-quarantine.
The CDC also issued guidance Friday to the cruise industry on best practices for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and managing an outbreak at sea.
“Cruising safely and responsibly during a global pandemic is difficult,” the CDC said in a statement Friday.
“The CDC is committed to working with the cruise industry and seaport partners to resume cruising when it is safe to do so, following” a phased-in approach with new rules and regulations that ensure safe voyages.
The guidance is considered a first step for cruise ships to fully resume schedules in U.S. waters. The cruise industry has been operating under a “conditional sail order” from the CDC since October 2020.
The Cruise Lines International Association, an industry group, stated that resuming ocean cruises in July 2021 aligns with President Biden’s goal of the nation getting back to everyday activities by July.
Dave McGlothlin, vice president of Tour Operations for Holland America Group, said Friday in an interview with the News-Miner that “there’s still a glimmer of hope” for salvaging the summer cruise season in 2021.
The Holland America Group offers big cruise ship tours to Alaska through Princess Cruises and Holland America Line. The company has paused cruise ship vacations to Alaska through June. The company continues to promote package land tours with Gray Line, its Alaska land excursion company.
Canada currently does not allow passenger ships from the U.S. to port because of COVID-19 concerns, which effectively has docked the Alaska cruise ship season, as an 1800s federal law requires foreign-flagged passenger ships sailing to and from the U.S. to stop at an international port.
U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan introduced the Alaska Tourism Recovery Act to alleviate restrictions for cruise ships operating in the U.S. and sailing to and from Alaska.
McGlothlin said Holland America Group is working with the Alaska delegation in Congress. “The congressional delegation has been fantastic, including Rep. Don Young,” to see what can be done to ease restrictions this year.
An option would be to pause the U.S. requirement, he said. Another option — if the Canadian government agrees — would be to ban people from disembarking from the cruise ships when they port in Canada.
Meanwhile, the cruise ship company is emphasizing land-package bus and train tours that are based at Alaska hotels, including in Fairbanks and Anchorage, and at lodges along the Alaska Highway.
Added McGlothlin: “We are still holding out.”
Contact political reporter Linda F. Hersey at 459-7575 or follow her at twitter.com/FDNMpolitics.