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HEALTH

Italian cruise ship leaves Covid rule-breaking passengers behind at Naples port

A family of tourists was kicked off their cruise on Wednesday after ditching their organised excursion to sightsee on their own, against the ship's anti-Covid regulations.

Italian cruise ship leaves Covid rule-breaking passengers behind at Naples port
The MSC Grandiosa cruise ship refused to let a family of holidaymakers back on board following a shore excursion. Photo: AFP
The unnamed Italian family had disembarked at the port of Naples on an organised day trip to the nearby island of Capri – but then left the group and ventured forth on their own despite being told not to, MSC said.
 
The family was later refused entry back on the ship, and they were left behind at Naples.
 
“By departing from the organised shore excursion, this family broke from the safe 'social bubble' that MSC Cruises created for them to safely enjoy their visit ashore, and therefore could not be permitted to re-board the ship,” it said in a statement. 
 
 
Staff scan pasengers' temperatures ahead of boarding the MSC Grandiosa cruise ship. Photo: AFP
 
The MSC Grandiosa, part of the fleet of privately owned MSC Cruises, was the first major cruise line to take to the Mediterranean after Italy’s long coronavirus lockdown.
 
It departed from Genoa on Sunday for a seven-day tour, after being out of action for more than six months.
 
Its cruises are to sail at 70 percent passenger capacity, as part of a series of measures taken to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection on board, though company representatives said this particular voyage was at closer to 50 percent capacity.
 
 
MSC is taking a tough line as it tries to avoid the problems experienced by smaller cruise operator, Norway's Hurtigruten, earlier this month, when dozens of passengers and crew tested positive for COVID-19.
 
Health authorities fear passengers may have infected locals at ports up and down the Norwegian coast during day trips. 
 
MSC said its security protocol exceeds national and industry standards. It says it pre-screens sites to be visited to make sure social distancing can be maintained, sterilises vans and buses before trips, and ensures that tour guides and drivers are properly equipped with masks.
 
The global cruise industry, which is slowly trying to get back on its feet after travel stopped during lockdown, has been criticised by health authorities for mishandling the epidemic in its early stages.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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