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Update on COVID-19 Safety Requirements in the Maritime Transportation System

CDC continues to require mask wear in indoor areas of conveyances and U.S. transportation hubs.

The President issued Executive Order (13998), Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel requiring masks be worn on all “public maritime vessels, including ferries” to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Federal order, Requirement for Persons to Wear Masks while on Conveyances and at Transportation Hubs, 29JAN2021 (the Order) requiring all persons travelling on all commercial vessels to wear a mask. Additionally, Executive Order 13998 directs the Coast Guard to implement public health measures consistent with CDC guidelines at sea ports (e.g., passenger terminals, cargo handling facilities, and other shoreside facilities that provide transportation of persons or cargo). Change-4 to this MSIB reflects that the CDC has issued no new guidance for maritime travel and continues to require mask wear in indoor areas of conveyances and US transportation hubs. All previous guidance outlined in MSIB 03-21 CH-3 remains in effect.

Mariners on “Non-passenger- carrying commercial vessels operated by a team of mariners who all live on the vessel” are exempt from wearing a mask. A mask will still be required when the vessel receives persons who are not a part of the team of mariners that live on the vessel. Though the CDC is no longer requiring mask wear in outdoor areas, operators of conveyances and transportation hubs, at their discretion, may require masks to be worn in outdoor areas. An outdoor area on a vessel is a space that is permanently open to the weather on one or more sides and, if covered by a deck or canopy, any spot on the overhead is less than 15 feet from the nearest opening. This guidance does not supersede any federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations that still require the wearing of masks in outdoor areas of conveyances and while outdoors on transportation hubs.

Conveyance operators must continue to require all persons onboard to wear masks when boarding, disembarking, and for the duration of travel, unless they are located in outdoor areas of the conveyance (if such outdoor areas exist on the conveyance). Operators of transportation hubs must require all persons to wear a mask when entering or while indoors on the premises of a transportation hub.

Vessel operators are reminded that operational limitations including vessel stability and egress requirements may limit the number of people on each deck. Masters and crew remain responsible for ensuring the vessel remains in compliance with the applicable requirements.

Read the MSIB

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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