The Maritime Department of the Hong Kong administration (MARDEP) has authorised crew changes without compulsory quarantine for cargo ships without scheduled cargo operations in Hong Kong. This means all cargo ships can facilitate crew transfers in Hong Kong following the relaxation of regulations in April which permitted crew changes for ships in port for cargo operations. Crew from other vessels (excluding fishing vessels) are still subject to 14 day compulsory quarantine restrictions.
The exemption to compulsory quarantine requires cargo crews to instead undergo medical surveillance during their time in Hong Kong. Medical surveillance is arranged by the Department of Health and requires crew from cargo ships to wear masks and check their temperature twice daily for reporting. Exempted persons are also subject to the temperature check and health declaration procedures carried out by the Department of Health at various boundary control points during arrival and departure clearance.
The Notice from MARDEP explains that for crew changes for cargo ships without scheduled cargo operations in Hong Kong the following conditions must be complied with:
1. Out-going crew members who have completed their service on board would be required to stay on board the vessel during their stay in Hong Kong and travel directly to the airport for repatriation to their home countries in order to minimise contact with the local community
2. In-coming crew members should only arrive Hong Kong when their vessels are berthed in Hong Kong and should get on board immediately upon arrival. If there is a genuine need for them to stay in Hong Kong while waiting to board, the shipping companies/agents should arrange for accommodation for self-isolation until getting on board
3. Point-to-point transfers should be arranged by the shipping companies/agents for crew members to and from the vessel.
The Notice from MARDEP can be found on the right.
If the policy in Hong Kong is successful it is hoped that it will be emulated in other ports globally, enabling safe crew changes around the world and allowing seafarers, some of whom have not been ashore for almost a year, to return home.
More information and advice on seafarer wellbeing during COVID-19 restrictions is available on the right.
Source: Standard Club