As we all know, COVID-19 has become a pandemic affecting almost every country and crew changes have been prohibited in many ports, including those in China. The delay has resulted in more and more crewmembers approaching, or already passing, the expiration of their contract. The need to carry out routine crew changes has become critical in order to protect seafarers’ rights and to ensure shipping companies are able to comply with their employment contracts and relevant international conventions including MLC.
We are therefore pleased to report that on March 20, 2020, the Shanghai authorities responsible for such matters issued a notice regarding new requirements and procedures to be followed making it possible in certain circumstances for crew change to take place at Shanghai port.
For ships not arriving from a “severe outbreak” country, crew changes can be arranged in the normal manner. However, if the ship is arriving from a “severe outbreak” country, crew changes should be minimized as much as possible, but are still possible subject to necessary quarantine measures as detailed below.
Currently, 24 countries are on the “severe outbreak” list which includes South Korea, Italy, Iran, Japan, France, Spain, Germany, USA, UK, Switzerland, Sweden, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Netherland, Austria, Australia, Malaysia, Greece, Czech Republic, Finland, Qatar, Canada, Saudi Arabia. This list is subject to update according to development globally.
For the ease of reference, we drafted a diagram as follows:
Details of the requirements and procedures are summarized as follows:
Crew Changes and Quarantine Requirements
For ships arriving from “severe outbreak” countries, the shipping companies and their local agents should report to the Shanghai authorities at the berth or terminal including customs, immigration and maritime bureaus.
Whenever the new procedures require a crew member to be isolated until 14 days have elapsed since the ship departed the last port (according to the log book record), the shipping company needs to arrange to transport the crew member to the designated isolation place directly, and the crewmember shall not leave the isolation place without approval. Each person stays at a single room and entry/departure is strictly restricted. The local health authorities will monitor the crewmember’s condition regularly and ask him or her to check body temperature twice a day. In case of abnormalities such as fever, the shipping company and its agent should report to local health authorities immediately and arrange to transfer the crewmember to medical facilities for treatment. The shipping company should provide a summary report about the crewmember’s condition to the customs and immigration.
each person stays at a single room and entry/departure is strictly restricted. The local health authorities will monitor the crewmember’s condition regularly and ask him or her to check body temperature twice a day. In case of abnormalities such as fever, the shipping company and its agent should report to local health authorities immediately and arrange to transfer the crewmember to medical facilities for treatment. The shipping company should provide a summary report about the crewmember’s condition to the customs and immigration.
If the crew member has a residence in Shanghai, he or she can be isolated at the residence instead of at the designated places.
Circumstances Where Crew Change is Not Allowed
In any case where there is suspected or confirmed COVID-19 crew member on board, the local health authorities will arrange to transfer him or her to medical facilities, and conduct tests on and quarantine all other crew members on board. The shipping companies should follow the requirements of local customs, maritime and immigration bureaus, make sure that precautionary measures are taken on board to ensure complete isolation. Until the possibility of COVID-19 infection is excluded, crew changes for the quarantined ship are strictly forbidden, and the existing crew members are not allowed to disembark at Shanghai.
For ships arriving from “severe outbreak” countries, during the voyage to Shanghai the master should make sure that the crew members take proper personal precautionary measures, check their temperatures twice a day and make records accordingly. In case there is any abnormality such as fever on board, appropriate quarantine measures should be taken immediately, and the situation should be reported to the customs, immigration and maritime bureaus within Shanghai. Once the maritime authorities receive such a report, they will inform the terminal operators immediately who will contact the local health authorities to make arrangements according to the relevant protocols.
During the ship’s stay at berth, other crewmembers are not allowed to disembark in principle except the crewmember that is to be replaced. The terminal operators should arrange watch of the ships; record the identities, contact information, reason and time of embarking or disembarking accurately and truthfully; and report the identities, residence, contact information of the crewmembers that are to be isolated to the local COVID-19 directing center as well as local health authorities.
Currently the above notice only applies to Shanghai port. Whether other Chinese ports will follow and make similar arrangement is yet to be seen.
We hope the above is of assistance. Should you have any query, please feel free to contact us at any time.
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