The U.S. Coast Guard announced on Friday, 11 June, that it would no longer require masks “in outdoor areas of maritime transportation conveyances and hubs,” according to a Marine Safety Information Bulletin.
However, until the order that requires masks can be amended officially, the order should not be enforced, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Boat operators must continue to require all persons boarding or disembarking to wear a mask during those times. As always, there are some boilerplate exemptions:
- When “eating, drinking or taking medication for brief periods” (but not for use of tobacco).
- When the crew member is a solitary worker in the work area (for example, when standing watch).
- While communicating with a person who is hearing impaired when the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
- If unconscious (for reasons other than sleeping), incapacitated, unable to be awakened, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance, experiencing difficulty breathing or shortness of breath or feeling winded may temporarily remove the mask.
- When necessary to temporarily remove the mask to verify one’s identity.
- For a child under the age of 2 years.
- For a person with a disability who cannot wear a mask, or cannot safely wear a mask, because of the disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- 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.
Late last month, Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Maggie Hassan (D-New Hampshire) submitted a letter to the Coast Guard and the CDC requesting a revisit and possible revision of federal masking mandates for commercial fishing vessels.
“We encourage the CDC – in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard – to revisit mask-wearing requirements specific to workers in the commercial fishing industry,” the May 25 letter stated.
The requirement, issued by the Coast Guard on 1 February and confirmed on 22 March, caused widespread confusion in the industry, as commercial fishing vessels were lumped in with the public and commercial transportation sector.
Reporting by Jessica Hathaway
Photo courtesy of Coast Guard/PO1 Levi Read