According to a circular issued by the Hong Kong Shipowners' Association, after repeated discussions between the industry and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) Government, the Secretary for Home Affairs of the SAR Government has formally approved the exemption of cargo ship crew from mandatory quarantine requirements under Section 599E of the Prevention and Control of Disease Ordinance. This exemption covers crew members of ships not engaged in cargo operations in Hong Kong, so as to facilitate crew shift change in Hong Kong.
The Marine Department of Hong Kong has also issued a formal notice explaining the new exemption arrangements. The specific exemption arrangements are as follows:
1. Crew members to be relieved from shift who have completed their contractual onboard service in Hong Kong will travel from the ship directly to the airport to return to their home countries in order to minimize contact with the local community.
2. Crew members to take over the shift shall arrive at Hong Kong and embark immediately after the ship berths in Hong Kong. If there is an actual need to wait for embarkation in Hong Kong, the shipping lines and agents concerned should arrange premises and accommodation for them for the purpose of self-quarantine before embarkation.
3. The related shipping companies and agents should arrange point-to-point pick-up and transfer of crew.
In the circular, the Hong Kong Shipowners Association thanked all its member companies who had assisted the Association in its efforts and assured the SAR Government that the shipping industry would continue to support the community in their efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 pneumonia.