BIMCO reports that, following several discussions with the Hong Kong Shipowners Association (HKSOA), the administration in Hong Kong is allowing conditional but unrestricted crew change in Hong Kong.
According to information provided by the HKSAO and confirmed by the Hong Kong Maritime Department (MARDEP), cargo ships without scheduled cargo operations in Hong Kong will be allowed to make crew chanes if the following conditions are met:
- 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 minimize contact with the local community
- Incoming 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
- Point-to-point transfers should be arranged by the shipping companies/agents for crew members to and from the vessel.
According to the Hong Kong Maritime Hub website, the breakthrough has been achieved by the unrelenting lobbying of the Hong Kong Shipowners Association, the Hong Kong Liners Shipping Association, and seafarers’ representative bodies.
“Today, we are very pleased to see that the HKSAR Government has taken our advice to further relax the arrangements so that with immediate effect, crew change of cargo ships without cargo operations is also allowed,” said Bjorn Hojgaard, Chairman of the Hong Kong Shipowners Association. “Once again, as a leading maritime center, Hong Kong has set an excellent example. We hope other governments will follow. Shipping is indispensable if the world is to win this battle against the virus.”
According to the International Labor Organization (!LO) there are currently between 150,000 and 200,000 seafarers worldwide by local COVID-19 prevention measures that preclude crew changes. As we reported earlier, they include the crews of five U.S.-flagged containerships – operating in the Mediterranean, the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf, and all participants in the Maritime Security Program – who have been working since December 2019 without reliefs.
Read the Hong Kong Marine Department notice HERE