Updates on the Port’s COVID-19 Response

May 19, 2020 Maritime Safety News

The Port of Seattle has been responding to the outbreak of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) since late January after public health officials confirmed the first case of the virus in the United States in Washington state.

Since then the Port has implemented protocols to maintain the health, safety, and well-being of our employees, travelers, and community members who use Port facilities while maintaining the essential functions of the Port.

The Port of Seattle supports efforts to limit the spread of the Coronavirus while maintaining essential operations. In response to Governor Jay Inslee’s “stay at home” order issued on March 23, 2020, Port of Seattle Commission President Peter Steinbrueck made the following comment: “Critical Port facilities and operations are still open. We are doing everything we can to support those staying home while keeping Port facilities safe for those who do essential work.”

Travelers should check with their airline for specific flight information.


  • The Port Commission updated its 2020 construction plans to boost local COVID-19 economic recovery through project spending and hiring while enacting public health protocols developed with guidance from state and federal agencies.
  • The Port will provide rent relief for qualifying business tenants and customers throughout its maritime and landside properties, which include office, retail, and restaurants, along with recreational and commercial moorage.
  • On April 1, 2020, the Port of Seattle Commission approved an immediate, short-term emergency financial relief package for airport-based businesses, barred evictions of tenants at Port of Seattle facilities (including live-aboard residents) due to an inability to pay rent through June 30, 2020.

At Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

  • Effective May 18, the Port will require all passengers, visitors, and airport workers to wear face coverings over their mouths and noses in public areas of the airport, subject to certain limited exceptions, until further notice. This recommendation is consistent with local health authorities’ orders and guidance, as well as the policies of our airline partners that are requiring passengers to wear face coverings while in a gate area and onboard flights.
  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) is open and operating to provide an essential service to the public, but it is not business as usual right now. We made operational adjustments at SEA in response to COVID-19.
  • People are traveling less. The airport is serving an average of 6,300 departing passengers per day compared to over 50,000 normally this time of year. Overall daily flights are down by two-thirds. Airlines suspended international flights and reduced service, totaling almost 700 canceled international flights in April. Airlines flying domestic routes significantly reduced flights across networks.
  • CARES Act Airport Grand Funding: SEA was awarded $192M in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation as part of the CARES Act to offset financial damage due to the unexpected drop in air travel and to limit the spread of COVID-19. Our airport team is working to complete a utilization plan for the grants.
  • Beginning March 24, 2020, the Port will not collect per-trip fees charged to on-demand taxi and flat rate hire operators for a period of 90 days. We will be determining the period for repayment and other details.
  • Read SEA Airport status updates and COVID-19 FAQs for more information.

The Port, public health organizations, and federal partners are taking the following actions to help prevent the spread of the virus and keep travelers and employees safe:

At Maritime Facilities

  • Maintaining the health, safety, and well-being of our community is the Port’s top priority. The cruise season will be delayed until the resolution of the public health emergency.
  • Shilshole Bay Marina (SBM) has implemented the following measures to support the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” emergency order. Non-liveaboard moorage customers should only visit the SBM if your trip is essential. For more details, read the SBM COVID-19 Operations Update.
  • Commercial fishing facilities are essential and will remain open to provide moorage, infrastructure, storage, and equipment services to the Commercial Fishing Fleets at Terminal 91 and Fishermen’s Terminal during COVID-19.
    • Some businesses at Fisherman’s Terminal are open and operating under proper protocols while the North Pacific Fishing Fleet prepares for the fishing season. For more details, read the Fisherman Terminal COVID-19 Operations Update.
  • The Port closed parking lots at Jack Block, Terminal 107, and Terminal 105 parks to support the statewide “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order and discourage gatherings. Reminders on what’s open, closed, and best practices if you plan to visit maritime parks and marinas, read the Safe and Healthy On Shore and Off blog.
  • Daily enhanced cleaning protocols have been implemented to prevent the spread of coronavirus at Port maritime and marine maintenance facilities including:
    • Providing hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes for self-cleaning of desks, shops, Port vehicles
    • Disinfecting high-touch surfaces and floors throughout facilities, including kitchens, handrails, doorknobs, offices, conference rooms, and restrooms
  • The CDC is the main federal response agency for maritime vessels. The United States Coast Guard has forwarded precautionary information to vessel owners/operators and local stakeholders.
  • The Northwest Seaport Alliance and Washington state ports are in communication with each other and the United States Coast Guard (USCG) through the USCG Area Maritime Security Committee (AMSC), which was established to be prepared for events such as this.

For Employees and Community Partners

The Port is working to minimize the spread of coronavirus and keep employees at our facilities informed by:

  • Optimizing telework for our Port workforce.
  • Creating public videos about COVID-19 response and making them available to all airport employees via YouTube.
  • Printing a COVID-19 fact sheet for airport employees, translated into multiple languages.
  • Reviewing large gatherings, events, celebrations, or tours scheduled to occur on Port properties.
  • Hosting Port of Seattle Commission meetings virtually until the public health crisis subsides.
  • We are adjusting our Port Commission meeting public comment protocol due to the Governor’s ‘Stay at Home’ order. There will be no physical location and the Port will not accept in-person, verbal comments during meetings. Those wishing to provide public comment will have the opportunity to:
    • Deliver public comments via email: All written comments received by email to commission-public-records@portseattle.org will be distributed to Commissioner and attached to the approved minutes.
    • Deliver public comment via phone or Skype for Business conference: To take advantage of this option, please email commission-public-records@portseattle.org with your name and the topic you wish to speak to by 9:00 a.m. PT on Tuesday, May 12. You will then be provided with a link to join the Skype meeting.

How You Can Stay Healthy

Public health officials recommend personal hygiene and frequent hand washing as the best way to prevent illness.

  • Wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick and stay home when sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • If you are traveling overseas, follow the CDC’s guidance.
  • Check-in with your airline if you have questions about your travel itinerary.
  • While not protective against novel coronavirus, public health officials also recommend the influenza vaccine. It’s not too late to get an influenza vaccine since flu season can last into spring.Source: https://www.portseattle.org/news/updates-ports-covid-19-response


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