Hong Kong has ended quarantine curbs that came into effect 11 months ago, and has recently resumed its ports’ shipping services, media reports stated. The operations are open for shipping services to vessels that do not work cargo through the port. However, the restrictions are not wholly lifted and continue to prevent crew changes and port visits for the crew.
Center for Health Protection released a letter to the shipping agents and companies stating that exemptions will permit vessels to call Hong Kong to bunker, provision, and exchange shipping documents. The Vessel Traffic Centre’s Marine Department considers the move to be an important step to restore marine service in the port. Over the past year, ships operating in the region had been diverted to Singapore, China or Taiwan for these essential services.
Welcoming the move, executives in the bunkering industry said the move was long overdue as the port had suffered from the 11-month extended restrictions. It is to note that the port was one of Asia’s busiest bunkering ports before the pandemic.
The exemptions are made only to ships that have not visited the “high-risk areas” in the past 21 days, including India, Pakistan, Brazil, South Africa and the Philippines. The vessels are permitted only to anchor while the crew is still restricted to go ashore along with no crew changes, sign-on and sign-off. Hong Kong health authorities also warned people who are coming in contact with the crew to take the necessary precautions like wearing personal protective equipment and checking body temperatures.