The US Coast Guard issued Marine Safety Information Bulletin (MISB) 02-21 Change 2, announcing it will no longer enforce mask requirements in outdoor areas of maritime transportation conveyances and hubs, in line with an amended Order issued by the CDC.
o remind, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Federal order in January, ‘Requirement for Persons to Wear Masks while on Conveyances and at Transportation Hubs, 29JAN2021’, requiring all persons traveling on all commercial vessels to wear a mask.
On 10 June 2021, CDC announced that, until it can amend the January Order, it will exercise its enforcement discretion to not require wearing a mask in outdoor areas of transportation conveyances or while outdoors at transportation hubs.
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.
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.
However, 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.
The order mandates vessel operators to use best efforts to ensure that any person on the conveyance wears a mask when boarding, disembarking, and for the duration of travel that is indoors. Depending on the circumstances, best efforts include:
- boarding only those persons who wear masks;
- instructing persons that Federal law requires wearing a mask on the conveyance and failure to comply constitutes a violation of Federal law;
- monitoring persons on board the conveyance for anyone who is not wearing a mask and seeking compliance from such persons;
- at the earliest opportunity, disembarking any person who refuses to comply or moving them to an outdoor area;
- providing persons with prominent and adequate notice to facilitate awareness and compliance of the requirement of this Order to wear a mask; best practices may include, if feasible, advanced notifications on digital platforms, such as on apps, websites, or email; posted signage in multiple languages with illustrations; printing the requirement on transit tickets; or other methods as appropriate.