China eases crew change restrictions by opening up 10 ports and introducing a circuit-breaker mechanism.
According to our Shanghai office, 7 Chinese governmental bodies including the Ministry of Transportation (MOT) have released a notice last week announcing that 10 Chinese ports will resume foreign crew change operations with certain requirements in place, taking into account of the current COVID-19 situation.
The 10 ports allowing for foreign crew change are Dalian, Tianjin, Qingdao, Shanghai, Ningbo, Fuzhou, Xiamen, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Haikou.
All shipping companies are advised to comply with the requirements set out in the said notice when effecting crew change which are as follows:
Foreign crew signing off
- 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 has facility to arrange “point-to-point” transfer to the outbound gate within the same city;
- the ship in question has left the last foreign port in more than 14 days;
- crew on board keeps a sound 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
- shall implement a closed-loop management as per the quarantine requirements issued by the local port.
The said 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 there were 5 tested positive cases detected in their ship aggregate; or suspended for 30 days if there was found 10 tested positive cases in their ship aggregate. More than 10 tested positive cases found, the shipping company will not be allowed to operate until they pass a fresh assessment conducted by the relevant authorities.
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) instead of the MOT in Beijing. As such, BIMCO recommends that members planning to have crew change conducted in China, to consult their local agents for the latest requirements implemented by the port in question.
BIMCO is continuously monitoring COVID-19 restrictions and its impact on the shipping industry in particular on crew changes. Below are some of the type of information currently being provided by BIMCO :
- Details about implementation measures
- Overview of challenges to crew change challenges
- Overview of extensions and exceptions to seafarers’ certificates