President Joe Biden has said the pandemic is over, despite more than 300 people dying from COVID-related illness every day. Now cruise lines, which experienced severe disruptions during the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak and, in some cases were stranded offshore due to ports refusing them permission to dock due to coronavirus outbreaks onboard, are relaxing their health protocols.
Norwegian Cruise Line, one of the largest cruise lines in the world, said Monday that passengers will no longer be required to show they are vaccinated against COVID-19, show the results of such a test, or wear a mask. The new policy goes into action Tuesday. Harry Sommer, chief executive of Norwegian Cruise Line
cited “significant, positive progress in the public-health environment.” “Health and safety are always our first priority; in fact, we were the health and safety leaders from the very start of the pandemic,” Sommer said in a statement. “Many travelers have been patiently waiting to take their long-awaited vacation at sea and we cannot wait to celebrate their return.” Ships also have new protocols, including more sanitation, upgraded air filtration and enhanced health services.Would you take a cruise? “I would not go on a large cruise ship that did not have reasonable COVID prevention measures, and a good contingency plan for dealing with illness,” said Dr. Andrew Pavia, chief at the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Utah. “A lot of passengers on cruises fall into high-risk groups, and medical care and evacuation are challenging.” “We could argue about what is enough prevention,” Pavia told MarketWatch. “Vaccination seems to be the minimum standard. It won’t prevent introduction and spread but will reduce the likelihood of severe consequences. Testing is another fairly easy ‘slice of the Swiss cheese.’ With other measures in place, routine required masking could be relaxed.” Would Dr. Luis Ostrosky, a member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, take a cruise that did not require vaccination, a COVID-19 test or masks? “No. Masking, testing and vaccination …