China has eased crew change restrictions by allowing 10 ports to resume foreign crew change operations, while also introducing a “circuit-breaker mechanism” in case some of a ship’s crew test positive for the coronavirus, according to the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO).
BIMCO said seven Chinese governmental bodies including the Ministry of Transportation (MOT) recently released a notice announcing that 10 Chinese ports will resume foreign crew change operations with certain requirements in place, taking into account the current COVID-19 situation.
The 10 ports allowing for foreign crew change are Dalian, Tianjin, Qingdao, Shanghai, Ningbo, Fuzhou, Xiamen, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Haikou.
BIMCO in an October 12 report said all shipping companies should comply with the requirements set out in the notice when effecting crew change.
Foreign crew signing off requirements include the following:
- Comply with Chinese entry and staying regulations during the epidemic period
- Acquire a valid departing air ticket, vessel ticket or bus ticket
- The disembarking point should have facility to arrange “point-to-point” transfer to the outbound gate within the same city
- The ship has left the last foreign port in more than 14 days
- Crew on board keeps a sound health and quarantine record
- Crew change will be permitted at the designated Chinese port upon clearance by the Chinese Customs
- The shipping company is required to rent a car to transfer the foreign crew from the disembarking point to the outbound gate point directly within the same city, or to embark another outbound ship directly once disembarking without any further stay in China
In addition, all shipping companies are advised to closely monitor the port’s local quarantine conditions and implement a closed-loop management as per the quarantine requirements issued by the local port.
The notice also introduces a quarantine circuit-breaker mechanism, in which a shipping company’s foreign crew change operations will be suspended for 15 days if there are five tested positive cases detected in their ship aggregate. If 10 tested positive cases are found, the suspension is for 30 days. And if more than 10 tested positive cases are found, the shipping company will not be allowed to operate until it passes a fresh assessment conducted by the relevant authorities.
BIMCO said shipping lines planning to have crew change conducted in China should consult their local agents for the latest requirements implemented by the various ports, which may have different approaches when dealing with the foreign crew change.
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