Our local correspondent, Sheringham P&I Services, has advised that Ghana Port Health Service will levy a fine of USD 3,500 on any vessel arriving with crew or passengers not fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The directive was initially due to be implemented from 15 January 2022 onwards. However, to allow owners sufficient time to vaccinate their crew, authorities have decided to allow a grace period, and the actual date of implementation is yet to be confirmed.
Is the fine per vessel or per unvaccinated person onboard?
This aspect of the directive is somewhat unclear. We have approached our correspondent to clarify whether the fine of USD 3,500 is per vessel irrespective of the number of unvaccinated people onboard or whether it is per unvaccinated crew member.
What will happen to unvaccinated personnel?
After the fine has been paid, all unvaccinated personnel onboard will be vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine by the local health authority The process and technicalities around the vaccination are still unclear. We have approached our correspondent for further information. It has also been reported that free pratique may not be granted until all crew are vaccinated and vessels may face delays as a result.
Which vaccines are recognized by Ghanaian officials?
Any vaccine that is approved by either the World Health Organization or the Ghana Food and Drug Authority will be accepted by Ghanaian officials. Given that the list of vaccines approved by the WHO and local State’s FDA may vary, having the crew vaccinated with any of the WHO approved vaccines would be beneficial for both owners and charterers as they are likely to have a larger acceptance in different ports worldwide.
Does the directive extend to on-signers?
We have been informed that all unvaccinated on-signing crew will be vaccinated upon arrival unless they have valid medical grounds allowing them to be exempt. Such a situation is unlikely to arise as all passengers entering Ghana by air will in any case need to be fully vaccinated according to the “Covid-19 Protocol for International Travelers” issued by the Ghana Health Service on 9 December 2021. It is also worth highlighting that in December 2021 Ghana announced that airlines arriving in Ghana with passengers not fully vaccinated will be fined. Airlines will also, therefore, check for proof of vaccination prior to embarkation.
P&I club cover
Members should refer to the FAQ prepared by the International Group of P&I Clubs (IG P&I) which provides guidance on the P&I insurance cover in relation to vaccination of seafarers. This document is available here. Members should also refer to “Coronavirus (COVID-19): Legal, Liability and Insurance Issues arising from Vaccination of Seafarers” by the International Chamber of Shipping for other queries related to the vaccination of seafarers. The question whether the crew can be compelled to be vaccinated is also addressed in the aforementioned publication.
We recommend owners whose vessels are planning to call ports in Ghana check to see if the crew onboard are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and are carrying vaccination certificates as proof to avoid any delays or other issues upon arrival in Ghanaian ports. They may also wish to contact their local agents prior calling Ghana to obtain further information on this Directive issued by the Ghana Health Service.
We would like to thank BUDD Group and our correspondent Sheringham P&I Services for their contribution to this alert.
Source: GARD, https://www.gard.no/web/updates/content/32941901/ghana-to-impose-fines-on-ships-with-unvaccinated-personnel