29 February, 2024
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NSW sails towards normality with the lifting of COVID cruise ship protocols


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The NSW Premier Chris Minns has ended COVID rules for cruising as the industry prepares for a busy summer.

Premier Minns has signed paperwork formally removing the Eastern Seaboard and Western Australian Cruise Protocols.

The Cruise Protocols were introduced in April 2022 to support the safe resumption of cruising following the lifting of the Commonwealth’s ban during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The participating state governments – NSW, Victoria, QLD and WA – approved the cruise protocols, which have been implemented by the cruise industry on a voluntary basis.

The protocols stated that all passengers aged 12 years and over needed to be fully-vaccinated to board a cruise ship departing or arriving at a port in these four states.

It also enforced mask wearing, including when embarking and disembarking, along with mandating negative COVID test results prior to departure.

Governments have agreed there is no longer a need for formal protocols with increasing community immunity to COVID-19 and lessons learned from the cruising industry since voyages resumed.

The Premier’s move follows an announcement late Friday by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC).

The AHPPC rescinded the current Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA) Cruise Guidelines and issued new advice around cruising.

The committee did note that cruise ships remain a higher risk setting for communicable disease and that cruise operators can help reduce the risk, including by managing staff health, encouraging passengers and crew to stay up-to-date with vaccinations and by promptly identifying and controlling outbreaks.

The NSW Government encourages the cruise industry to continue its work to reduce the risk of COVID-19 and other outbreaks on voyages, in line with the updated Australian Health Protection Principal Committee’s advice.

The Premier of NSW, Chris Minns, said:

“We need to get life back to normal.

“We have scrapped these rules because they aren’t needed any more.

“Passengers can take their own decisions to look after their health before and during a cruise.

“Cruise companies have been looking after their guests and workers and we encourage them to continue that.

“But this change is needed – we could not remain the only country with these rules for cruising.

“These protocols were important at the time to get the cruising industry going again after COVID. They were never meant to remain forever.”

The Minister for Tourism, John Graham, said:

“The 2023 winter cruise season in Sydney is on track to be one of the strongest on record and it is fantastic even more people can now participate.

“These protocols were important after COVID but were not intended to continue in perpetuity and I thank the sector for how they have handled the additional requirements placed upon them.

“The decision to bring the sector in line with other forms of travel is a sensible way to give visitors an unforgettable and safe experience across NSW’s beautiful coastline.”

The Minister for Health, Ryan Park, said:

“The decision to repeal the Cruise Protocols is supported by NSW Health advice and NSW Health will continue to work with the cruise industry to minimise health risks to passengers as much as possible.

“The NSW Government remains committed to safeguarding public health and ensuring that policies are adapted in response to changing circumstances.

“I am confident that the cruise industry will continue to prioritise the health and safety of passengers, crew, and the broader community.”

Chris Minns

Premier of New South Wales

John Graham

Minister for Jobs and Tourism

Special Minister of State, Minister for Roads

Minister for the Arts, Minister for Music and the Night-time Economy

Ryan Park

Minister for Health

Minister for Regional Health

Minister for the Illawarra and South Coast

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