Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Return to Search

Requirement for Face Masks on Public Transportation Conveyances and at Transportation Hubs - Maritime FAQ

Guidance for all persons traveling on commercial maritime conveyances into, within, or out of the United States and to all persons at U.S. seaports.

Final

Issued by: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Issue Date: March 23, 2021

Maritime

Does the mask order apply to all commercial maritime conveyance activity in the United States?

Yes, the mask order applies to all persons traveling on commercial maritime conveyances into, within, or out of the United States and to all persons at U.S. seaports. The term commercial maritime conveyance means all forms of commercial maritime vessels, including but not limited to cargo ships, fishing vessels, research vessels, self-propelled barges, and all forms of passenger carrying vessels including ferries, river cruise ships, and those chartered for fishing trips, unless otherwise exempted.

Which maritime vessels are exempted from CDC’s mask order?

Only the following maritime conveyances are exempted:

  • Private maritime conveyances operated solely for personal, non-commercial use (e.g., personal watercraft),
  • When the operator is the sole occupant on board the maritime conveyance,
  • Mobile offshore drilling units and platforms, to include floating and fixed Outer Continental Shelf facilities as defined in 33 CFR 140.10, and
  • Certain maritime conveyances excluded from the definition of vessels under 42 CFR 70.1:
    • Fishing boats including those used for shell-fishing*;
    • Tugs which operate only locally in specific harbors and adjacent waters;
    • Barges without means of self-propulsion;
    • Construction-equipment boats and dredges; and
    • Sand and gravel dredging and handling boats.

      * Fishing vessels, fish processing vessels, and fish tender vessels as defined under 46 U.S.C § 2101 do not fall under this exemption — including shell-fishing vessels. A “fishing boat” is an auxiliary craft as defined under 46 U.S.C § 4502(k) carried on board a fishing vessel.

       Tugs which operate only locally in specific harbors and adjacent waters means tug vessels operating exclusively within a worksite and that have been issued a worksite exemption by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Please note that the operators of these maritime conveyances and other persons on board must observe CDC’s mask order while awaiting, boarding, or disembarking at the seaport.

How is CDC defining the term seaport in the mask order?

The term seaport means any port of entry or any other place where persons await, board, or disembark all forms of maritime commercial conveyances (e.g., a marina or dock).

Are mariners on non-passenger commercial maritime conveyances exempt from wearing a mask under the exemption for “a person for whom wearing a mask would create a risk to workplace health, safety, or job duty as determined by the relevant workplace safety guidelines or federal regulations”?

No, this exemption does not exempt mariners from the mask order simply by virtue of working on a non-passenger related commercial maritime conveyance. To be exempt, the mariner would need to be performing a duty that would, if a mask were worn, create a risk to workplace health, safety, or job duty as determined by the relevant workplace safety guidelines or federal regulations. The exemption only applies while performing that duty.

Mariners on many non-passenger-related commercial maritime conveyances (e.g., cargo and towing ships) live on board for weeks with little contact outside the crew. How should the mask order be applied onboard these conveyances during a voyage?

Mariners on non-passenger commercial ships should be guided by CDC’s Interim Guidance for Ships on Managing Suspected or Confirmed Cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in following the requirements of the mask order. Per the Interim Guidance, crew should wear masks when outside of their single occupancy cabin unless work duties prevent their safe use or necessitate personal protective equipment due to worksite hazards. Mariners would not be expected to wear a mask while they are alone and are eating, sleeping, or resting.

Additionally, mariners must wear masks when other persons (e.g., visitors, pilots, inspectors) join the ship for any period of time and when mariners disembark the ship. During these activities, masks should be worn in addition to maintaining a distance of six feet between individuals.

Does the mask order apply to a personal watercraft that is occasionally used commercially?

While the order does not apply to personal maritime conveyances, the mask order applies to all persons on board if a personal maritime conveyance is used for a commercial purpose, such as for a chartered fishing trip, including while awaiting, boarding, and disembarking at the seaport. Operators of such conveyances do not need to wear a mask if they are the only person on board.

HHS is committed to making its websites and documents accessible to the widest possible audience, including individuals with disabilities. We are in the process of retroactively making some documents accessible. If you need assistance accessing an accessible version of this document, please reach out to the Section 508 Help Desk.

DISCLAIMER: The contents of this database lack the force and effect of law, except as authorized by law (including Medicare Advantage Rate Announcements and Advance Notices) or as specifically incorporated into a contract. The Department may not cite, use, or rely on any guidance that is not posted on the guidance repository, except to establish historical facts.