On February 1, 2021, the Coast Guard issued Marine Safety Information Bulletin (MSIB) 02-21, COVID-19 Safety Requirements in the Marine Transportation System. Since the release of the MSIB, the Coast Guard received numerous questions regarding the applicability of the mask mandate.
Executive Order (13998), Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel, uses the non-regulatory term “public maritime vessels, including ferries” for those vessels that must implement mask usage. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) order, Requirement for Persons to Wear Masks while on Transportation Hubs, 29JAN2021, further defined the applicability to all commercial vessels. Based on the this CDC order, all commercial vessels, which is inclusive of fishing vessels, uninspected passenger vessels, cargo ships, tankers, charter passenger vessels, ferries, towing vessels etc., should implement mask wear protocols onboard.
The Coast Guard continues to work closely with the CDC to address the unique challenges posed by shipboard operations and living conditions as they pertain to the mask mandate in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 onboard. In general, mask wear will be required unless their wear would pose risks to personal/workplace safety or prevent compliance with personal protective equipment by regulation (e.g., respirator used during confined space entry examinations). Vessel owners and operators are encouraged to use CDC recommendations for ships and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) included within CDC’s Requirement for Face Masks on Public Transportation and at Transportation Hubs website. Additional comments related to mask wear on commercial vessels should be directed to [email protected].