Due to coronavirus (SARS-CoV-19) outbreak, several Nordic countries, ports and maritime organisations are facing restrictions, but we already see some positive signs of reopening the economies which also affects maritime sector. Our team gathered information about situation in Nordics (Estonia, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark) and updates this article on weekly basis to help our clients in this challenging time.
The ban on cruise ship calls is until 17 May 2020. This is current end date of the state of emergency in Estonia announced by government. Nonetheless restrictions on cruise ships may continue even after the end of the emergency.
Temporary border control and ban on the entry for foreign nationals is imposed. Exceptions to this include asymptomatic crew members and persons performing repairs or warranty or maintenance work on ships.
Upon arrival at an Estonian port of a vessel, a crew member is allowed to enter the territory of the port (quay) only for mooring, loading and unloading of cargo, or other operations necessary for the operation of the ship (bunkering, dealing with passengers, replenishment, handling of waste, inspection of draft marks, etc.).
Ban on visiting Estonian islands.
Passenger traffic between Estonia and Finland is only allowed for returning citizens or in certain special cases. Due to the decline in demand related to the restrictions, passenger operators have adjusted their schedules.
Currently there are no restrictions on freight transport and no significant changes in the schedules of regular freight lines vessels - voyages continue as before the crisis. Also, no significant change in balk cargo handling.
In every port, all supervisory activities are performed, with safety measures established for health protection in place and avoiding human contact as much as possible.
The Estonian Maritime Administration has published a circular on the impact of the emergency situation on the maritime sector, including the repatriation of seafarers, seafarers’ certificates, ship supervision, recreational craft, navigation in Estonian waters and port supervision. More information
Government measures to revitalize the sector
Vessels entering Estonian ports exempted from fairway dues for one year from April 1, 2020.
In order to encourage trade in the current situation, all vessels entering Estonian ports or roadsteads will be exempt from the payment of fairway dues between April 1st 2020 and March 31st 2021; all fairway dues which have already been paid since April 1st shall be reimbursed within 30 days by the Estonian Maritime Administration.
Sweden temporary restricts non-essential travel to Sweden from countries outside of the European Union. The entry ban does not apply to people whose reason for travelling is to return to their homes. In addition, the entry ban does not apply to people who have particularly urgent needs or who are to carry out essential functions in Sweden.
Ships calling at Swedish ports: regular routines/procedures are in place and still appropriate.
Public Health Agency of Sweden has issued detailed instructions to personnel working in ports and airports, regarding hygiene and disinfection measures.
The Swedish government has adopted a regulation regarding extension of the validity of seafarer documents that stipulates that a medical certificate with a validity of 1 year or longer, a Certificate of Competency (CoC) and/or a Certificate of Proficiency (CoP) that expires on or after 1 April and before 1 September 2020 will remain valid for 6 months from the date of expiry of the certificate without a specific approval.
In addition, regulation stipulates that if another country than Sweden has issued the seafarer’s national CoC or CoP and that country issues an extension of the validity, the validity will automatically be considered extended for the same period but in no case longer than 6 months from the original expiry.
The Swedish Transport Agency may issue a dispensation permitting a specified seafarer to serve in a capacity for which he/she does not hold the appropriate certificate for a period not exceeding 6 months.
The Swedish Transport Agency has decided that all ships’ statutory certificates that expire 1/4-1/9 will remain valid for 6 months without a specific decision. This also goes for the certifications depending on audits and surveys that have not been possible to perform. For annual ISM and ISPS audits internal audits may be postponed for 3 months.
Ports remain open. Ships transporting goods are still allowed to arrive at Norwegian ports. Restrictive measures (border and quarantine) are mainly aimed at international passenger traffic, which can further impose restrictions on freedom of movement for personnel on vessels.
9 out of 12 combined passenger/RORO ships in international routes have cancelled operations. The remaining three vessels in operation are almost entirely carrying cargo.
Vessels that use SafeSeaNet Norway must confirm that there is no detection or suspected infection on board and that they do not come from an area of widespread infection. If the ship cannot confirm this, notification shall be given to Vardø VTS (NOR VTS).
The Ministry of Transport has adopted a temporary Regulation prolonging Pilot Exemption Certificates.
Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA) has restricted the inspections being carried out, including port state controls and inspections under EU/EEA aquis. Port state control in Norway will only be carried out when deemed necessary for safety reasons.
NMA has decided that certificates and vessel instructions which expire before 12 June 2020 may be granted a 3-month extension without further approval from the NMA.
NMA has also decided to grant a general extension of the validity of personal certificates.
NMA has issued a general acceptance of crew members to continue service on board Norwegian vessel until a suitable arrangement can be made.
All maritime passenger transport into Finland has been suspended. Cargo and ro-ro vessels carrying lorries are not affected by this.
Restrictions have been applied to border crossing. Passenger and individual travelling to Finland has been restricted, except for the Finnish citizens or Finnish residents returning to Finland and the EU citizens (ETA/CH) returning to their home country via Finland.
Seamen’s crew change is seen as essential travel and is permitted. During the transfers, crowds and close contacts shall be avoided (including as uninterrupted transfer as possible from/to the airport, avoiding public transport where possible). Visa requirements are in force for those nationalities requiring visa.
During the restrictions, crew going ashore is not allowed unless it is for a necessary reason. This necessary reason would be for example to visit a doctor or a pharmacy. Work and movement in the port area are permitted under the rules of the port operator. Leaving the port area (border crossing point) requires a necessary reason mentioned above
Expiring certificates of seafarers can be considered valid for up to three additional months. Surveys which are about to expire may be granted a three-month extension.
Government measures to revitalize the sector
The National Emergency Supply Agency is launching financial support measures to safeguard flow of goods of particular importance to the security of supply (25.03.2020).
he support arrangement applies to five passenger car ferries operating under the Finnish flag, one ferry operating under the Swedish flag and one ferry operating under the Estonian flag. The ferries operate on the Helsinki–Tallinn, Turku–Stockholm and Vaasa–Umeå routes. The ferries operating between Turku and Stockholm also ensure the continuation of cargo transport from the Åland Islands to Finland and Sweden. RoRo and RoPax transport to Germany and other parts of Europe is profitable activity that occurs on market terms and does not require support. Support arrangement applies also on Viking Line: M/S Rosella on route Mariehamn – Kapellskär.
The Danish Government has closed the borders to Denmark in an attempt to control the spread of the coronavirus. Danish citizens will be allowed to re-enter the country but visitors from other countries will be refused entry.
Cruise tourism has been suspended in Denmark and passenger ferry activities have been restricted. As part of border control measures, a complete or partial closure of a significant number of train, air, and ferry routes for passenger traffic is expected. Furthermore, this will also include a complete stop of all cruise ship traffic to Denmark.
Extensions of expiring certificates of seafarers are generally possible. Assistance with extending foreign certificates is available in case of need.
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