The Hong Kong government announced on July 26 that crew change arrangement for passenger vessels and goods vessels without cargo operation in Hong Kong would be suspended effective July 29 as the city moves to contain a new wave of coronavirus outbreak that has seen infected cases rise to more than 100 for nine straight days.
The testing and quarantine arrangement for sea crew members of goods vessels coming to Hong Kong for cargo operation, aircrew members and other persons exempted from quarantine requirement (exempted persons) arriving Hong Kong will also be tightened.
The Government spokesman said the quarantine exemption arrangement under the Compulsory Quarantine of Certain Persons Arriving at Hong Kong Regulation (Cap. 599C) and the Compulsory Quarantine of Persons Arriving at Hong Kong from Foreign Places Regulation (Cap. 599E) was essential for maintaining the necessary operation of society and the economy, and for ensuring an uninterrupted supply of all daily necessities to the public.
With effect from July 29, in accordance with the risk level of respective exemption categories, the government will tighten the testing and quarantine arrangement for exempted persons as set out below:
Sea crew of passenger and goods vessels
- Suspend crew change arrangement for passenger vessels and goods vessels without cargo operation in Hong Kong until the local epidemic situation is contained;
- For goods vessels coming to Hong Kong for cargo operation, new exemption conditions will be imposed and the existing requirements will be tightened, including –1. all crew members of these vessels should remain onboard the vessels during the stay of the vessels in Hong Kong waters and should not go ashore;
2. outgoing crew members who have completed their service onboard will be required to remain on the vessel during their stay in Hong Kong until transportation arrangement is made for them to avoid contact with the local community;
3. incoming crew members arriving at the airport by flights from other places should possess a negative result of nucleic acid test for COVID-19 with the specimen collected within 48 hours before he/she departs his place of origin for entering into Hong Kong. Crew members who do not possess the test results will be denied entry.
4. point-to-point transfer should be arranged by the shipping companies/agents for crew members to travel to and from the vessel. Use of public transportation which will serve the general public at the same time is prohibited, and crew members should wear masks during the entire journey, etc.; and
5. shipping companies/agents which fail to comply with the above conditions will be denied crew change arrangement in Hong Kong.
Air crew guidelines
- All aircrew must have a negative result of nucleic acid test for COVID-19 done with the specimen collected within 48 hours prior to boarding the flight to Hong Kong. Otherwise, the aircrew must take a nucleic acid test for COVID-19 at the Temporary Specimen Collection Centre (TSCC) and wait for the test results there or at any other designated location.
- Airlines must arrange point-to-point transportation for their aircrew to travel between the HKIA and their place of accommodation and prohibit the use of public transportation which will serve the general public at the same time.
- Airlines should also ensure that their aircrew will self-isolate at a designated location in accordance with DH's requirements. Aircrew should strictly observe the principle of minimising contact with the local community during their stay in Hong Kong.
For other exempted persons arriving in Hong Kong at HKIA:
- All exempted persons must have a negative result of a nucleic acid test for COVID-19 done with the specimen collected within 48 hours prior to boarding the flight to Hong Kong. Otherwise, they must take a nucleic acid test for COVID-19 at DH's TSCC upon arrival at HKIA.
Keeping the supply chain open
"Goods vessels coming to Hong Kong for loading and unloading of cargos are essential for the supply of daily necessities and services to Hong Kong, including daily goods, food, anti-epidemic supplies and medical materials, with a view to maintaining the smooth operation of Hong Kong. As such, the Government considers that crew members of these cargo vessels should be exempted from compulsory quarantine to allow them to undergo crew change in Hong Kong. We believe that after tightening the relevant conditions, public concerns about the public health risks can be suitably addressed," a government spokesperson said.
"On the premises of protecting the health of Hong Kong people and safeguarding Hong Kong's robust healthcare system, further to the announcement on July 7, we have further tightened the testing and quarantine arrangement for exempted persons arriving Hong Kong in accordance with the actual situation and anti-epidemic need."