NEW South Wales premier Chris Minns has scrapped remaining Covid mandates for the cruise sector.
The Eastern Seaboard and Western Australian Cruise Protocols were introduced in April 2022 after the federal government lifted its nationwide ban on cruising.
The state governments of NSW, Queensland, Victoria and WA approved the protocols, and the cruise industry has implemented them on a voluntary basis.
The protocols aimed to support the safe resumption of cruising after the ban lifted. They 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 the four states.
The protocols also enforced mask wearing, including when embarking and disembarking, along with mandating negative Covid test results prior to departure.
Mr Minns has now signed paperwork formally removing these protocols.
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.
“We need to get life back to normal,” Mr Minns said. “We have scrapped these rules because they aren’t needed any more.
“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.”
NSW minister for tourism John Graham said the 2023 winter cruise season in Sydney is on track to be one of the strongest on record.
“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,” he said.
“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The premier’s decision follows an announcement on Friday by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, which rescinded the current Communicable Diseases Network Australia Cruise Guidelines and issued new advice around cruising.
The committee noted 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.