BIMCO says that, according to its Shanghai office, seven Chinese governmental bodies, including the Ministry of Transportation (MOT), last week released a notice last week announced that 10 Chinese ports will resume foreign crew change operations with certain requirements in place to take into account the current COVID-19 situation.
The 10 ports are:
Shipping companies are advised to comply with the requirements set out in the government notice, which are:
- 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 must have the facility to arrange “point-to-point” transfer to the outbound gate within the same city;
- the ship from which the crew are signing off must have left the last foreign port more than 14 days previously;
- crew on board maintains a satisfactory health and quarantine record;
- crew change will be permitted at the designated Chinese port upon clearance by the Chinese Customs carrying out a proper quarantine checkout together with negative nucleic acid testing result; and
- 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 to the above, 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 government notice introduces a quarantine circuit-breaker mechanism. It operates in the following manner; a shipping company’s foreign crew change operations will be suspended for 15 days if five positive tested cases were detected in its ship aggregate; or suspended for 30 days if 10 tested positive cases were detected. If more than 10 tested positive cases are found, the shipping company will not be allowed to operate until it passes a fresh assessment by the relevant authorities.
LOCAL PORT HAS FINAL SAY
It is BIMCO’s understanding that the various Chinese ports may take different pragmatic approaches when dealing with the foreign crew change. In practice, the final say lies ultimately with the local port government (the city’s leading group office of epidemic prevention and control) rather than the MOT in Beijing.
BIMCO recommends that members planning to conduct crew changes in China consult their local agents for the latest requirements implemented by the port in question.