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Friday, September 18, 2020

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COVID-19: UPDATED INFORMATION AFFECTING SHIPS

Updated: 14th September 2020

Current situation (summary):

  • Argentina is still under mandatory lockdown since 20th March 2020. However, the so-called “urgent services” concerning international trade are exempted.
  • Ports’ and ships’ operations: opened.
    • However, there are still ongoing limitations or restrictions which could affect ship’s schedule depending on ship’s previous ports of call, pre-arrival health information, transit time, port of call. These are:
  •  Especial 72 hrs pre-arrival information requested according to National Protocol.
  • Limitations travelling to Uruguay has entailed difficulties to the Argentinean Pilots to reach Recalada Pilot Station to board inbound ships.
  • Unless there is an identified risk, the Ministry of Health has suspended the phisical examination (body temperature measurment) previosuly taken at Zona Comun or Reclada especially to those vessels arriving with less than 14-days transit time.
  • Despite of the applicable NATIONAL PROTOCOL, there are some jurisdictions which have adopted a stricter approach preventing the ship to berth whenever it arrives there with less than 14-day transit time (affecting mainly ships arriving from   Brazil or Chile due to its short transit time). This situation continues to be observed in:
  • Necochea and Bahia Blanca ports
  • Surveyor’s attendance: whilst in general surveying services have been provided throughout some restrictions or delays may be observed because:
  • Those surveyors with health risk factors are not in general providing services;
  • The province of Santa Fe has imposed restrictions to enter/leave the province which includes strict quarantine and/or negative Covid19 test within 48 hours. This restricts the circulation between the surveyors based in Buenos Aires to Santa Fe and vice versa.
  • Zarate county has imposed some additional restrictions and measures to circulate which could potentially restrict further the availability of surveyors or delay their arrival
  • Following still classified as especially “Affected areas”: EU members, Schengen members, UK and North Ireland, United States of America, Korea, Japan, China, Iran, Chile and Brazil.
  • No crew changes are allowed. However, injured or ill Crewmembers will be admitted to disembark however there are still important limitations to repatriate them.

Further info:

As a consequence of the outbreak of the COVID-19, declared as pandemic by WHO, Argentina  - where up to date reported 555,537 COVID-19 cases, including 11,412 deaths and 428,953 recoveries  –  has taken various strict measures in order to prevent a steep spread of the virus. Since March the Experts advised that the peak is being observed in August/September and they would expect for the curve to start its descend thereafter.

Under Decrees of Need and Urgency 260/2020 (12 MAR 2020) and 297/2020 (19 MAR 2020) and periodical extensions/modifications, President Alberto Fernandez declared the “sanitary emergency” in Argentina and various extraordinary measures taken thereupon, most importantly, the so-called “precautionary and mandatory social isolation” applicable effective to all Argentinean territory. Currently the “quarantine” has been extended until 20th August 2020 and the decision is periodically reviewed based on developments.

On 16 MAR 2020 Pandi Liquidadores SRL closed the office and all administrative and claims handlers staff moved to a remote-working scheme. Within our continuity plan we expect to provide services on the usual manner insofar as the ports continue operating and our surveyors are allowed to provide services on board:

  • Remote office te.: +54 11 7078 0186 (Monday to Friday, 08:00 to 17:00)
  • On duty 24/7: +54 911 4446 0662 (as usual, emergencies and A.O.H.)
  • Mobiles phones and other contact details as published in the Clubs’books

- As from 15 MAR 2020 the Executive decided to close all boarders and no foreigners are allowed in the country (even Argentinean citizens or residents who remain abroad are being repatriated with limitations). Currently there are limited flights to USA and Europe but no crew changes are allowed. Injured or ill crewmembers will be admitted to the country but later repatriation is limited.

- Within the exceptions to the mandatory isolation, the Executive exempted various activities including “Urgent activities related to foreign trade”.

- The Ministry of Health  has suspended the phisical examination of the crew at Common Zone or Reclada Pilot Station (previously taken on board those vessels arriving with less than 14-day transit). This may vary in case of an identified health risk when we assume that if any symptom is detected, the ship will be quarantined. However, the ill crew/passenger could be disembarked, diagnosed and treated according to COVID-19 protocols. Please note that the shipowners may face  the costs of disembarking, moving to health care center and other costs associated with the case, depending on each case and the conditions imposed by the Ministry of Health. 

On 21st May 2020 the relevant CRISIS COMMITTEE updated the provisions of the NATIONAL PROTOCOL and the pre-arrival information/documentation requested and quarantine criteria depending on ship's previous ports of call, transit time and crew changes. Please download the AMENDED PROTOCOL HERE.

- Previous guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Transport established upon which conditions the crew of a ship calling any port could disembark. This however seems to be changed an no crew are allowed to disembark at any port. Humanitarian reasons shall be considered by the Authorities. 

- The additional quarantine requirements suggested by the Ministry of Transport on 17th May 2020 based on ship's type apparently was not taken into account by the AMENDED PROTOCOL and apparently would not be followed. The requirements of the Ministry were as follows: in addition to all the other applicable measures, (1) ALL BULK CARRIERS, 100% CAR CARRIERS, GENERAL CARGO, TANKERS NOT CARRYING PETROLEOUM OR ITS DERIVATES, CONTAINER LINERS WITH HIGH RISK CREW (those trading between only one neighbor country and ours) SHOULD COMPLY WITH A 14-DAY QUARANTINE REGARDLESS OF ITS PRECEDENCE. (2) This would not be required to CONTAINER LINERS (with +1 international call), LNG, TANKERS CARRYING PETROLEOUM OR ITS DERIVATES.

- Due to Unions or local authorities approach, any ship calling San Nicolas, Necochea or Bahia Blanca may not be allowed on berth until 14 days transit times is complied with from previous port of call. This would affect particularly ships calling from Chile and Brasil due to short transit time. If the vessel expects to call any of these ports with less than 14 day transit time we would suggest to enquiry ship’s agents in advance.

- Uruguay has imposed restrictions to travel from Argentina affecting the services of the Pilots to reach Recalada Pilot Station (which is normally reached through Montevideo). This may entail delays on pilotage services.

- The Ministry of Transport, through Resolution 60/20 dated 13 MAR 2020 created “Crisis Committee to Prevent COVID-19 in River, Maritime and Lacustrine Transport”. In turn, on 20 MAR 2020 the Committee issued the “COVID-19 Protocol” applicable to  the Country, according to which:

  • Any suspected case must be reported to Health Authorities o whom acts on their behalf;
  • 72 hours prior to ship’s arrival, the Master must submit before the Health Authorities pre-arrival information (see specific requirements in the AMENDED PROTOCOL HERE
  • “essential personnel” are those involved in shipping and ports who provide operational and safety services , such as: pilots, Master/Crew, stevedores, quantity and quality control companies, tugs, holds/tanks inspectors, Customs brokers, ISPS offiers, ship agents, motor boats providers (amongst others described);
  • Various general measures are implemented related to increase hygiene conditions both in ports and ships, operational and precautional measures for crew, pilot, shore personnel; as sestrictions to board, to enter the port and to provide services to the vessels; measures in case of isolation in ports; and guidelines for quarentine ships
  • This and other details must be consulted with the ship agents at the appropriate time

Yours Faithfully,

PANDI LIQUIADORES SRL/BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA

Notice: the content of this circular is for information only. Even though it has been issued carefully, and to the best of our knowledge, it has a general purpose and we can accept no liability whatsoever for any particular action taken upon it. © Pandi Liquidadores SRL 2020. All rights reserved.