GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Local health leaders are confident that the first Carnival cruise ship to leave since the pandemic hit will be done safely.
What's done to ensure passengers don't have COVID-19 before boarding?
The Galveston County Health Authority said the boarding process is completely different.
Passengers are now assigned specific arrival times. Once at the terminal, they must wear masks and social distance. Anyone older than 12 must show proof of their COVID-19 vaccination.
Guest were also pre-screened for COVID-19 symptoms. If anyone was symptomatic, they'll be tested. If it's positive, they cannot board.
"The virus has had a way of humbling us, and it might humble us again," Galveston County Health Authority Dr. Philip Keiser explained. "Right now, with the best information that we have, I think this is going to be an OK endeavor. We're going to get commerce back."
WHAT IF THERE'S AN OUTBREAK ON BOARD?
If someone tests positive for COVID-19 while aboard the ship, local health leaders told ABC13 that the person will quarantine as cruise employees contact trace.
Ambulances will be on standby when the boat returns in case someone needs hospitalization.
There will also be a new procedure for passengers getting off the ship.
"Those people who haven't been exposed, they come off first," Keiser explained. "They can go on their way. Those people who potentially have been exposed, they will come off second."
If someone tests positive, and doesn't need hospitalization, they're asked to return home immediately once released from the ship.
Out-of-towners who flew in for the cruise will have to make plans to quarantine on the island, Keiser said.
"When we get our first case on the ship, which is bound to happen at some point, everyone will be really nervous, and we'll see how it works," he said.
DO YOU HAVE TO WEAR A MASK?
Carnival is requiring passengers out of Galveston older than 12 to be vaccinated. Because of this, masks and social distancing aren't required on board.
The only time passengers will have to wear a mask is in the terminal.
HOW LONG WILL THE SAFETY MEASURES STAY IN PLACE?
Local health leaders aren't sure how long passengers will be required to show COVID-19 vaccination proof, or how long these protocols will remain in place.
It's a plan the county said its been working on with the cruise line for more than two months.
"I would get on the ship," Keiser said. "If I could get the time off, I would be on this cruise. I'll be very honest with you."
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As Carnival sails from Galveston, here are the plans to keep passengers safe
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