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Saturday, June 25, 2022

Victoria floats new COVID cruising rules

Victoria is preparing for the return of cruise ships later this year, today releasing new protocols aimed at reducing the risks of large COVID-19 outbreaks onboard.

In a statement today, the state government said that health Departments in Victoria, NSW and Queensland had worked together to align requirements for cruise ship operators and passengers, with the Commonwealth ban on cruise ships ending this month.

It said cruise ship protocols will protect Victorians as well as the workers and passengers on the vessels, which are susceptible to large outbreaks.

The protocols include the following measures:

  • All passengers over 12 must have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine; and all crew must be ‘up to date’ with three doses (with exceptions for those who aren’t yet eligible);
  • Unvaccinated children under 12 or anyone with a valid medical exemption can travel, but they must not make up more than 5% of the ship’s passengers;
  • Passengers must obtain a negative COVID-19 test before embarking, and if boarding with symptoms they must have another negative PCR test that day. Crew will test every 14 days, or when symptomatic;
  • All crew must wear masks on board except when in their rooms. All passengers must wear masks when embarking and disembarking, and indoors onboard if social distancing is not possible;
  • Cruise ship operators must undertake public health measures to reduce the risk of transmission, including developing COVIDSafe plans for shore excursions and managing cases and contacts onboard
  • Cruise ship protocols will not apply to people arriving on passenger ships that sleep fewer than 100. Entry requirements for fully vaccinated or exempt non-cruise maritime crew will be the same as those for air crew.

“We currently have the fewest restrictions in place since the beginning of the pandemic, and the sensible settings that are in place can be reviewed following the peak in cases,” said Health Minister, Martin Foley.

“The return of cruise ships later this year is great news for our visitor economy, and our COVIDSafe protocols will protect workers, passengers, and the communities and attractions that will host cruise ship excursions.”

Among other changes to Pandemic Orders from midnight tonight, vaccination requirements won’t apply to any venue when it is operating as a polling place for the upcoming Federal Election, the Victorian Government has announced.

Further COVIDSafe voting advice is expected to be provided to the Victorian public in advance of early voting starting next month.

Further information on setting changes will be updated when they take effect at coronavirus.vic.gov.au.

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