If You're Over 65, You Shouldn't Go Here Right Now, CDC Warns
The warning also applies to high risk groups and those who are pregnant—even if they're vaccinated.
One of the biggest changes brought to everyday life by COVID-19 has been the way it turned certain public places into high-risk areas for transmitting the virus. And even though vaccines have helped limit severe cases and hospitalizations from infection, the spread of the Delta variant has led to the revival of some health precautions that haven't been seen since the early days of the pandemic. In some cases, this includes avoiding certain venues if you're particularly vulnerable to COVID. As a result, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning that anyone aged 65 or older should add cruise ships to the list of places they shouldn't go to right now.
In an update released on Aug. 20, the health agency changed its current travel risk level for cruises to "Level 3: High" and recommended that seniors should avoid them, regardless of their vaccination status. It also specified that vaccinated people who are pregnant, were recently pregnant, anyone with "an increased risk of severe illness," and people of any age who are unvaccinated shouldn't board a cruise ship for the time being.
"The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads easily between people in close quarters aboard ships, and the chance of getting COVID-19 on cruise ships is high," the CDC wrote on its website.
The CDC update also specified that while it wasn't issuing a mask mandate for cruise ships similar to the one in place for travel on airplanes, trains, buses, and other public transportation, it now recommends that any passengers should wear a face-covering whenever in public spaces onboard the vessels. However, the agency noted that "individual cruise lines may require travelers (passengers and crew) to wear masks indoors on board the ship."
The agency now recommends that anyone boarding a cruise ship should get tested for COVID-19 one to three days before their voyage and then again three to five days after they return, even if they're fully vaccinated. It also suggests that anyone who is unvaccinated should self-quarantine for seven days when they return from their cruise, even if they test negative.
The change in guidance comes after a spate of recent COVID-19 infections have been reported on cruises. Last week, 27 fully vaccinated people aboard a Carnival cruise ship docked in Belize tested positive for the virus. And in July, four vaccinated adult passengers and two unvaccinated children aboard a Royal Caribbean ship tested positive during a courtesy end-of-cruise screening, USA Today reports.
"The health, safety, and well-being of our guests, crew, and the destinations we visit is our priority. All activities on the ship are taking place, and our guests have been terrific at adapting to our new protocols," Carnival said in a statement in the wake of the outbreak. The cruise line also clarified that it currently goes above and beyond CDC guidelines and requirements in its operations, adding that it now requires all passengers to wear masks in all common areas of the ship and began requiring a negative COVID test of all embarking passengers as of Aug. 14, CNN reports.