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DfT updates social distancing guidance on domestic cruises as Covid restrictions ease

Cruise, Wave

The Department for Transport (DfT) has updated its guidance for domestic cruise travel, as many Covid-related restrictions are scaled back on what has been dubbed ‘freedom day’ [19 July].

The key change in the guidance is the lifting of social distancing rules – aside from some limited circumstances – on domestic cruises.

The DfT stated: “Under step 4 of the roadmap, social distancing rules (2 metres or 1 metre with additional mitigations) are lifted.

“Social distancing will only be required in limited circumstances such as at ports of entry for passengers between disembarkation and border control in order to manage the risk of variants of concern being transmitted between individuals.”

Domestic cruise operations began in May and have since operated with a number of new health and safety protocols in place.

Earlier this month, it was announced domestic cruise operators with a Covid-19 vaccination policy in place could operate at 50 per cent capacity.

Responding to the latest news, a CLIA spokesperson said that cruise lines will continue to take a “cautious approach”.

“UK cruise guests have already safely enjoyed a number of domestic sailings round Britain this summer,” the spokesperson said. “This successful domestic restart has been enabled by the wellbeing protocols that have been introduced across the cruise industry.

“While we will continue to assess our industry protocols, we believe that a cautious approach is appropriate as part of a gradual, phased resumption.”

The DfT added: “Domestic cruise operators will have a Covid-19 vaccination policy for passengers and crew.

“A person is considered fully vaccinated when they have completed a full course of immunisation through the UK vaccination programme, more than 14 days before joining the cruise. People under the age of 18, people with a medical exemption, or people involved in Covid-19 vaccination trials are not expected to be vaccinated.

“Operators should encourage crew to get vaccinated. They should facilitate the access of crew to vaccinations, so that full immunisation can be received as soon as possible.”

The FCDO does, however, continue to advise against international cruise travel “based on the latest public health medical advice”.

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