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Australia – Coronavirus Disease Update

All ports

On 1 May 2020, the CHO issued the Public Health Direction – Border Restrictions which applies to people travelling interstate and coming to Queensland from another State or Territory. This will be relevant to crew members having to take a domestic leg as part of their travel to join a ship, departing from a Queensland port.

The Chief Health Officer’s Border Restrictions (No.5), Schedule 1, contains provisions that incorporate the National Cabinet agreement and applies ‘to Australian and international crew working on commercial ships (not cruise ships).

Vessels may berth in Australia at any time, however if the vessel arrives within 14-days from their last international port of call or from the last time crew (not including cruise ship crew) joined the vessel within Australia and all occupants aboard the vessel have declared that they are healthy, the following restrictions apply:

  • Maritime crew are not subject to the mandatory 14-day quarantine however, they will be required to comply with self-isolation requirements.
  • Crew travelling to Australia (by aircraft) to join a vessel must adhere to the following arrangements:
    • On arrival at an Australian airport, crew must declare to an ABF officer they are joining a vessel or offshore installation. They will then be directed to a biosecurity officer.
    • Crew may take a domestic flight/s to their final destination to meet their vessel but must self-isolate at their accommodation if they have a layover at any time.
  • All crew must remain on-board while the vessel is berthed in a port or any other place where cargo is loaded or unloaded.
  • Crew are able to disembark to conduct essential vessel functions and crew must wear personal protective equipment (PPE) while performing these functions.
  • Crew must also use PPE in public spaces on board the vessel while non-crew members are on-board.
  • These restrictions apply until 14 days has elapsed since the vessel departed the last foreign port before Australia or the last time crew joined the vessel within Australia, unless crew are unwell or there is a suspected case of COVID-19 on-board. If a person is unwell, there will be a human biosecurity assessment, and if indicated, a subsequent referral to state and territory human biosecurity officer (public health doctor) for direction as per current process.

The period maritime crew spend at sea prior to their arrival in Australia and during operations in Australia since the last time crew joined the vessel (emphasis added) counts towards the 14-day period of self-isolation. In practice, if a vessel has travelled for ten days since last being in a foreign port, the period of self-isolation for its crew members would be the remaining four days.

New South Wales

All crew regardless of visa status, self-isolation status or time at sea are ‘RESTRICTED ON BOARD’ of their respective vessels in all NSW ports, NO EXCEPTIONS.

Crew will not be allowed to leave their vessels without explicit approval from the Commissioner of Police NSW.

Masters of all ships due to arrive at our ports are required to answer the following questions:

  1. What were the last 5 ports of call?
  2. Are there any ill passengers or crew on board?
  3. Are any crew members or passengers showing symptoms of Covid-19 on board?
  4. Has the vessel been in mainland China, Iran, Republic of Korea or Italy in the last 14 days? What date did the vessel depart these countries?
  5. Has any person on the vessel been in contact with a proven case of novel coronavirus infection in the last 14 days.
  6. Are there any crew or passengers who have left, or transited through, mainland China or Iran, Republic of Korea or Italy less than 14 days ago?
  7. For the purpose of this instruction, 14 days will mean 14 calendar days (e.g. if the vessel has sailed out of a Chinese port at 1000 hours local time on 1 March, she will only be allowed to enter into the port at 0001 hours local time on 16 March).
  8. Where Covid-19 is suspected or confirmed Port Authority will risk assess the situation and obtain further advice from the respective government agencies prior to boarding the vessel;
  9. If any person joins the vessel after her departure from the previous port, and if that person has left or transited through mainland China, Iran, Republic of Korea or Italy less than 14 days ago, the 14 calendar day count will recommence from the date of the last person joining the vessel.
  10. Port Authority will delay pilotage services to ships that have transited from mainland China, Iran, Republic of Korea or Italy which have been at sea for less than the 14 calendar day quarantine period, or 14 calendar days from the date of the last person joining the vessel.

Queensland

There is no requirement for vessels to have been underway for 14 days or more from an overseas port prior to arrival for Port of Brisbane, Townsville, Port Alma, Bundaberg and Gladstone. 

VTS will continue to query vessel’s prior to pilot boarding to confirm the vessel’s last port, departure time and presences of any COVID-19 symptoms.

All other Queensland Ports, vessel entry requires 14 days since departure from last overseas port. Vessels can apply for an exemption to the respective Regional Harbour Master if they are arriving within 14 days from Singapore, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and the Southwest Pacific. This also includes specific trades such as livestock carriers.

Vessels planning to arrive within 14 days of departure from Singapore, Philippines and Indonesia will be required to:

  1. Detail crew changes undertaken whilst in the that previous port/country.
  2. Detail specific measures taken to minimise the potential expose of infection to existing crew.
  3. Detail of any other mitigation strategies were employed at the previous port if cargo was handled.

The process to be followed is:

  1. No less than 48hrs prior to vessel arrival the Agent is to send an electronic question form to the vessel Master.
  2. Completed form to be returned to the VTS centre for processing 24hrs prior to arrival of the vessel (pilot onboard time).
  3. VTS to send the form to the Duty Harbour Master for their assessment.
  4. Duty Harbour Master to advise VTS that the vessel is approved for entry.
  5. If the vessel is clear to berth, VTS to advise vessels Agent.
  6. If further assessment deemed necessary, General Manager to be informed and vessel advised.