The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ended its COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships on Monday.
“CDC has worked closely with the cruise industry, state, territorial, and local health authorities, and federal and seaport partners to provide a safer and healthier environment for cruise passengers and crew,” the agency’s website reads. “Cruise ships have access to guidance and tools to manage their own COVID-19 mitigation programs.”
The CDC added that “while cruising poses some risk of COVID-19 transmission, CDC will continue to publish guidance to help cruise ships continue to provide a safer and healthier environment for crew, passengers, and communities going forward.”
USA TODAY reached out to the agency for comment.
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The agency transitioned to a voluntary program for COVID-19 mitigation cruise ships earlier this year, which offered recommendations on safety measures like testing and vaccination. Cruise lines that opted into the program agreed to follow those recommendations.
The CDC said on its website that it will keep giving testing recommendations for cruise ship operators, and that vessels will keep reporting cases to the agency. The change comes as capacity and occupancy levels on ships have ramped back up, more than two years after the pandemic shut the industry down.
Cruise Lines International Association, the industry’s largest trade organization, welcomed the end of the program “in favor of a set of guidelines for public health operations on cruise ships,” spokesperson Anne Madison told USA TODAY in an emailed statement.
“We look forward to reviewing the details, which we understand will be posted on the CDC website in the coming days,” she continued. “This is an important step forward in the CDC aligning the guidelines for cruise with those it has established for other travel, hospitality, and entertainment sectors.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: The CDC has ended COVID program for cruise ships