We at Gordon & Rees have been asked for advice on crew changes, shipyard calls, threatened longshore stop-work actions, obtaining medical attention ashore for crewmembers and other issues in the COVID-19 environment. We are in contact with the U.S. Coast Guard regarding COVID-19 policies and procedures, both local and national, that affect our shipowner clients.
The primary U.S. Coast Guard sites relating to COVID-19 are linked below. There are restrictions on crew entry to the U.S. from about 30 countries, protocols regarding vessels that arrive at U.S. Ports from the countries on that list with no sick crew members, and protocols re: vessels arriving from those countries with sick crewmembers.
The key provisions as of mid-May cover:
Vessel Control Actions: Presidential Proclamations have placed entry restrictions from persons arriving from or through the following countries: Iran, China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau), the European states within the Schengen Area (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland), United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland.
Non-passenger commercial vessels that have been to the countries noted above or embarked crewmembers from the countries noted above within the last 14 days, with no sick crewmembers, will be permitted to enter the U.S. and conduct normal operations, provided that crewmembers remain aboard the vessel except to conduct specific activities directly related to vessel cargo or provisioning operations. U.S. citizens or any other persons listed in Section 2 of Presidential Proclamation “Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus,” for example crewmembers with a transit and/or crewmember visa, may be permitted to disembark the vessel to conduct vessel operations pier side or for the immediate and continuous transit through the U.S. to another country. When entering the U.S. all persons must be cleared by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and, if applicable, CDC. Crewmembers without the appropriate visas will generally be required to remain onboard unless otherwise cleared for entry by CBP and, if applicable, CDC.
Non-passenger commercial vessels that have been to the countries noted above or embarked crewmembers from the countries noted above within the last 14 days, and do have sick crewmembers should expect delays and need to work with local health and port officials prior to entry.