The CDC on Friday updated its cruise ship restart guidance, relaxing testing protocols for vaccinated passengers.

The agency's Operations Manual now says that passengers must be screened for signs or symptoms of Covid-19 as well as for close contact exposure to an infected person within the past 14 days.

Passengers who are asymptomatic and fully vaccinated do not have to be tested for Covid upon embarkation even if they had a known close contact in the past 14 days. Symptomatic, vaccinated passengers can sail at the cruise operator's discretion if they have testing and infection control in place for other infections, such as the flu.

Passengers who are not vaccinated or who have documentation of recovery will not be able to board if they are symptomatic or were exposed in the past 14 days.

The CDC also eliminated embarkation day testing for vaccinated passengers who are staying onboard for back-to-back cruises. Unvaccinated passengers still have to test.

The updated guidance came days after the CDC relaxed its masks and shore excursion guidance, allowing vaccinated passengers to not wear masks outside, except in crowded spaces, and changing its prohibition of independent shore exploration from a requirement to a recommendation.

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