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Relief: China opens 10 ports to crew changes

PortandTerminal.com, October 13, 2020

BEIJING – Ten Chinese ports will resume foreign crew change operations with certain requirements in place, taking into account the current COVID-19 situation.

According to China’s Ministry of Transport, Dalian, Tianjin, Qingdao, Shanghai, Ningbo, Fuzhou, Xiamen, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Haikou have been opened up for foreign ship crew changes. The owner or the manager of the ships can file applications for crew changes at the ports 14 days after the ship leaves the last port of call.

It is surprising however to the Port of Qingdao on the list of ports being opened up for crew changes at this time. The Chinese port city of Qingdao has announced that it plans to test some nine million people in the coming five days, after 12 locally-transmitted coronavirus cases were reported sparking concerns of a wider outbreak.

Requirements for crew signing off have been outlined as follows:

  • 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.

The authorities also introduced a circuit breaker mechanism for the crew changes. If the number of Covid-infected crewmembers from the same shipping company reaches five and 10, all the foreign crews from the company will be suspended from work shift for 15 days and 30 days respectively at Chinese ports. If the number surpasses 10, authorities will prohibit the company’s vessels from crew changes until a re-evaluation is done. 

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