China is still adhering to its Covid-19 dynamic clearance policy as the Omicron variant is spreading across the country. Following a recent politburo meeting, the central government has received clear instructions to continue its Covid-19 control policy. Since the strict measures to contain the virus are unlikely to relax in the short term and one key aspect of such measures is to prevent the import of cases from abroad, the Covid-19 restrictions in Chinese ports are likely to remain in place for some time.
Current Covid-19 restrictions in Chinese ports
Oasis P&I recently published circular No. 2204 covering the current Covid-19 restrictions in many Chinese ports. We summarise below the restrictions currently in place:
- Surveyors’ attendance: For most Chinese ports surveyors’ attendance on board is not permitted, although some ports allow surveyors who are members of the ports’ covid-19 control management, also known as close loop management, to board vessels. In some ports and shipyards where boarding is allowed, surveyors have to undergo a period of quarantine afterwards.
- Crew change: Chinese crew change is allowed in all Chinese ports. However, non-Chinese crew change is only possible some major ports like Shanghai, Tianjin and Qingdao subject to local authorities’ approval. The full or partial lockdowns/static management in some areas may make it challenging and even impractical to arrange crew changes.
- Local Covid-19 control policy: The local requirement varies from port to port. In general, PCR tests are required for all or some of the crew for vessels that have crew change within 14 days of arrival at a Chinese port and for vessels/crew that have called at/travelled to high-risk areas. In some ports, vessels may be asked to fulfil a period of quarantine before getting alongside for cargo operations or ship repair. Some ports even require ships to be disinfected before berthing.
- Handling of positive cases: In most ports, it is allowed to disembark Chinese crew who have tested positive while it remains impossible to disembark non-Chinese crew who have tested positive. Some ports may reject the entry of vessels for scheduled cargo operations or repair work if there are confirmed cases of Covid-19 on board.
This alert is to highlight the main points covered in our correspondents’ alert on various ports in China. The information is only valid for the date of issue of this alert. Previous experience suggests that local restrictions may change overnight depending on the actual Covid-19 situation in the port cities and the authorities’ response to the same. An additional challenge is that different information sources may provide inconsistent interpretations of restrictions covering the same port. Members are recommended to make frequent checks with local agents or Gard’s correspondent for the most up to date and reliable information on Covid-19 restrictions in any given Chinese ports.
Gard’s COVID-19 hot-topic page contains a compilation of links to relevant websites, guidelines, and other Gard material that may assist ship operators, masters and crews to stay alert and prepare and respond to the Covid-19 outbreak. The International Group of P&I Clubs (IG) has an interactive tool that can assist ships with chartering, operations and help prepare staff for what to expect when arriving in port. The shipping company Wilhelmsen also provides regular and useful updates on the latest port restrictions and updates.
We are grateful to Oasis P&I for providing useful information on the COVID-19 situation in Chinese ports.