Two major cruise lines, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean, have both tightened their policy on onboard face masks in the wake of a swift-moving Omicron.
The COVID-19 variant has forced the cruise companies to now require all passengers to wear masks while they are in indoor areas aboard the ship unless they are eating or drinking.
The updated rule goes into effect immediately and will be re-evaluated on January 5, 2002.
“We feel it prudent to temporarily add measures and require masks indoors at all times, unless actively eating or drinking,” a Royal Caribbean spokesperson told Cruise Critic, which first broke the story. “This new update also applies to vaccinated areas and venues. Guests booked on these sailings are being reached out to and made aware of the change.”
Omicron has been described as more transmissible than the Delta variant of the virus but less deadly. Nonetheless, it is moving at a pace across the world more rapid than originally thought as the Christmas and New Year’s holidays approach.
“Given the current health environment, we’ve updated our onboard health and safety protocols and requirements,” Christine Da Silva, senior vice president of branding and communication for Norwegian, said in a statement shared with USA TODAY Saturday.
It’s likely other cruise lines will follow now that a precedent has been set by Norwegian and Royal Caribbean, which are also advising customers to wear their masks outside on deck if proper social distancing is not attainable.
President Joe Biden will address the nation on Tuesday on the Omicron variant.
Building off his Winter Plan, @POTUS will announce new steps the Administration is taking to help communities in need of assistance, while also issuing a stark warning of what the winter will look like for Americans that choose to remain unvaccinated.
— Jen Psaki (@PressSec) December 18, 2021