Leave your mask at home: Minns set to scrap all COVID regulations on NSW cruising

Portrait of man wearing face mask traveling on boat in Europe at summer holidays during coronavirus pandemic. New normal. Tourist in straw hat and sunglasses having boat trip tour on vacation.

The NSW Premier, Chriss Minns is prepared to scrap all remaining COVID restrictions on cruise ships in the state as Australia gets closer to completely removing restrictions.

There are a number of rules currently in place, including anyone over the age of 12 needing to be vaccinated as well as passengers having to wear masks and complete a test before boarding the vessel.

Under the  Eastern Seaboard and Western Australian Cruise Protocols, cruise ships must also report on how many active cases they have on board between 12 and 24 hours before arriving at a NSW port.

The world’s famous ship, Queen Elizabeth cruise ship docked at Circular Quay, in Sydney with Harbour Bridge in background. Australia 28/02/18. (iStock – Natsicha)

The news comes just days after the federal government announced it would review the conflicting cruise vaccination rules in place, potentially unlocking new holiday options for thousands of unvaccinated cruisers.

There is no set date on when the restrictions will be lifted, although it is possible that it could happen within a matter of days, in time for the start of the Australian cruising season which will set sail in September.

“We need to move on and get back to normal,” Premier, NSW, Chriss Minns, told The Daily Telegraph. 

“We’ll be removing restrictions on cruising, like the need for wearing a mask and having a COVID vaccination when boarding. There is no need for it anymore.

“Passengers should continue looking after their health before and during their cruise, including through vaccination … but Australia can’t remain the only country globally with these rules for cruising.

“These protocols were important at the time to get the cruising industry going again after COVID. They were never meant to remain forever.”

Managing director of Cruise Lines International Association, Joel Katz the current rules are not only confusing, but also negatively impacting the industry.

“The current situation is very confusing for guests – we are constantly hearing from international guests who go on the Australian government website which says there are no cruising restrictions – but then when they get here (Sydney) there are,” Katz told The Daily Telegraph.

“We are pushing the federal government to (finish) the review of protocols and to bring them into line with current community expectations.”

The luxury cruise market generates over $1.5 billion each year and industry experts expect around 1.1 million passengers to sail on cruise ships in Australia this coming season.

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