The Cyprus Shipping Deputy Ministry (SDM) has formally announced a new process to facilitate crew changes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Crew changes for vessels are possible in Cyprus provided certain conditions are met. The relevant decrees issued by the Cyprus Ministry of Health also permit the long-term stay in anchorage of vessels, including cruise ships (warm lay-up)
“Seafarers are suffering under the current circumstances, impacted by extended contracts and unable to return home due to closed borders and cancelled flights. As an industry, we have a duty to support our seafarers, while always maintaining the safety of the vessels they work on,” said Natasa Pilides, Cyprus Shipping Deputy Minister. “In coordination with the Cyprus Shipping Deputy Ministry and the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Health has introduced a formal process to ensure continuity of trade and the well-being of our key workers. We remain committed to facilitating a smooth process when assisting individuals in getting back to their loved ones, which is so important at this difficult time. We will continue to adapt processes and procedures as necessary, ensuring we are doing all we can to support safe, efficient and compassionate shipping operations.”
Cyprus is implementing the crew change measures in support of recommendations from IMO, European Union, International Labour Organization and the International Chamber of Shipping.
The main conditions set for crew changes by Cyprus include:
- Isolation: People arriving in Cyprus by air have been subject to self-isolation conditions for 14 days before their arrival; and
- Negative coronavirus test: People arriving in Cyprus by air must have been subjected to a PCR-based coronavirus test, either in the country they are in prior to arrival or, if not possible, in Cyprus upon their arrival.
- Logistics management: The company or agent arranging the crew change is entirely responsible for arranging the transfer of all seafarers from the vessel to the airport and from the airport to the vessel, taking all the necessary precautions. If the times of arrival of the ship and the airplane do not coincide, or if the PCR-based test results are still pending, the company or agent will need to make arrangements in coordination with governmental authorities for the crew to remain in isolation at a designated address until the time of their departure. Where possible, seafarers should stay onboard the vessel during this period.
These new measures are in addition to earlier steps taken by Cyprus in response to the pandemic, that include extensions of deadlines for Certificates of Competency, Certificates of Proficiency, Medical Fitness Certificates, Seafarer’s Identification, and Sea Service Record Books.