NEW South Wales’ “outdated” COVID-19 cruise restrictions are set to be axed by the state government, The Daily Telegraph has reported.
It is understood the rules could be dropped within days, depending on negotiations with the Australian Government and other states, although no official date has been offered.
“We need to move on and get life back to normal,” Premier Chris Minns said.
“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.”
Minns reinforced although the protocols were important at the time to restart the cruise industry, they were never meant to remain indefinitely.
Tourists are still being hit with conflicting COVID rules, depending on which state they are cruising in, with New South Wales following the same protocols as Victoria, Queensland, and Western Australia.
Cruise Lines International Association noted Australia is the only significant country in the world with ongoing testing and vaccination mandates for its cruise industry.
“As the current settings have become increasingly confusing for guests, CLIA and cruise lines have engaged with federal and state health authorities to seek a consistent approach in line with current community standards,” it said.
“The removal of Covid-19 vaccination and testing requirements for cruise ship passengers will bring Australia into line with other jurisdictions around the world.
“CLIA looks forward to further details from governments so that cruise guests can have clarity ahead of the summer cruise season.”
Carnival Corporation also welcomed the “common-sense” decision by the Government of New South Wales to lift the protocols.
Chief Strategy Officer Teresa Lloyd said the decision will bring cruising more into line with current Australian community COVID settings.
“We are pleased this decision removes the ongoing confusion that surrounds cruising for so many tourists and brings us back in step with the rest of the community,” Lloyd said.
She said Carnival and its cruise lines have worked hard alongside the relevant state health authorities to ensure our ships go above and beyond when it comes to keeping guests, crew and our community safe.
“We will continue to abide by our strict and robust hygiene standards on our ships whilst working alongside health authorities into the future.”