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Federal cruise COVID measures removed

New South Wales Premier Chris Minns confirms the rules will be removed, in line with federal recommendations.

The Premier of New South Wales Chris Minns has confirmed the removal of cruise COVID measures, effective immediately, following advice from Australia’s Chief Medical Officer late last week.

The withdrawal of cruise-specific measures was confirmed Friday by CHO Paul Kelly, following a decision from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC).

Cruise Lines International Association Managing Director Joel Katz said the decision gives clarity to cruise passengers ahead of the coming summer season.

“This brings Australia into line with other countries internationally,” Katz said.

“As the last major cruise destination to maintain cruise-specific measures, Australia’s ongoing testing and vaccination requirements had been causing increasing confusion among travellers, particularly as measures on land and at airports had been removed.”

Minns had written to CLIA confirming the move, adding other states are expected to make similar adjustments in line with the AHPPC announcement, after he last week revealed the rules were set to be axed.

“The cruise industry’s top priority will continue to be the health and safety of guests, crew and the communities we visit,” Katz said.

“Cruise lines will continue to abide by their own robust health and safety measures and hygiene standards, and the industry will work closely with health authorities into the future.”

Accommodation Australia also welcomed the removal of restrictions, with the state set to enjoy a bumper cruise season in 2024-25.

The industry group’s New South Wales Manager Stacey McBride noted the discrepancy which existed between the information provided on the Australian Government website, which states there are no cruising restrictions, and the regulations in NSW, which require guests to wear a mask, and have COVID vaccination checks when boarding.

“The situation was extremely confusing for guests and had the potential to place a handbrake on what is looking like one of the best year’s forecast for cruising since COVID decimated the industry,” she said.

“The removal of restrictions on cruising in NSW could not come at a better time as we move ever closer to the start of the summer cruising season.

“At the moment we are expecting an increase in cruise bookings of around 26% compared to the 2017/18 season before COVID enforced a two-year ban on the industry.”

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