Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International are tightening mask protocols on board cruise ships as the omicron variant of coronavirus, which is moving faster than surveillance systems can track it, continues to sweep the globe.
"Given the current health environment, we’ve updated our onboard health and safety protocols and requirements," Christine Da Silva, senior vice president of branding and communication for Norwegian, said in a statement shared with USA TODAY on Saturday.
Norwegian, which recently had a COVID outbreak on its Norwegian Breakaway ship, will now require passengers to wear masks while indoors except for when actively eating or drinking or during time spent in their stateroom.
Additionally, the cruise line is asking that passengers wear their masks while outdoors if social distancing isn't feasible and that they follow local regulations during port visits.
Last month, Norwegian also extended its vaccination requirement for 100% of passengers indefinitely.
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Similarly, Royal Caribbean told passengers in a note Friday that it would tighten mask restrictions through Jan. 5.
"With the recent uptick of COVID-19 in the world and added omicron variant concerns, we feel it prudent to temporarily tighten our onboard health protocols to require masks indoors at all times, unless actively eating or drinking," the cruise line said. "This new update also applies to vaccinated areas and venues."
The cruise line asked that passengers understand that health and safety come first.
Contributing: Elizabeth Weise and Karen Weintraub
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Norwegian, Royal Caribbean tighten mask policies as omicron spreads