The Coast Guard released a Marine Safety Information Bulletin Friday on the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and how it may affect mariners and maritime commerce. The CDC has updated their Interim Guidance for Ships on Managing Suspected Coronavirus Disease 2019 and Cruise Ship Travel.

If a person becomes ill on board any vessel that may adversely affect the safety of a vessel or port facility is a hazardous condition per 33 CFR 160.216 and must be reported immediately to the Coast Guard Captain of the Port (COTP). Cases of persons who exhibit symptoms consistent with COVID-19 must be reported to the COTP .

The Coast Guard considers it a hazardous condition under 33 CFR 160.216 if anyone, regardless of where they have been or who they have interacted with, shows symptoms of COVID-19 or other flu-like illness. This requires immediate notification to the nearest Coast Guard COTP.

Per 42 CFR 71.21, vessels destined for a U.S. port are required to report to the CDC any sick or deceased crew/passengers during 15 days prior to arrival at the U.S. port. Guidance to vessels to report deaths and illnesses to the CDC can be found here. U.S.-flagged commercial vessels are also advised to report all ill crewmembers in accordance with the requirements of each foreign port called upon.

The following restrictions apply to the following countries: Iran, China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau), and the European states within the Schengen Area: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Vessel owners/operators and local stakeholders should be aware of the following restrictions:

  1. Passenger vessels or any vessel carrying passengers that have been to the countries noted above or embarked passengers who have been in the countries noted above within the last 14 days will be denied entry into the U.S. If all passengers exceed 14 days since being in the countries noted above and are symptom free, the vessel will be permitted to enter the U.S. to conduct normal operations. These temporary measures are in place to safeguard the U.S. public.
  2. Non-passenger commercial vessels that have been to the countries noted above or embarked crewmembers from the countries noted above within the last 14 days, with no sick crewmembers, will be permitted to enter the U.S. and conduct normal operations, with restrictions. Crewmembers on these vessels will be required under COTP authority to remain aboard the vessel except to conduct specific activities directly related to vessel cargo or provisioning operations.
  3. Vessels carrying passengers from the countries noted above that originally departed and/or initiated from U.S. ports will be authorized to return to U.S. ports.

Note: The above restrictions do not apply to U.S. citizens or any other persons listed in Section 2 of Presidential Proclamation “Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus.”

Vessel owners and operators should be aware of the following:

  • The Coast Guard will continue to review all “Notice of Arrivals” in accordance with current policies and will communicate any concerns stemming from sick or deceased crew or passengers to their Coast Guard chain of command and the cognizant CDC quarantine station, who will coordinate with local health authorities.
  • All commercial vessel operators and mariners are encouraged to exercise due diligence during daily operations and highly encouraged to follow the CDC Interim Guidance for Ships on Managing Suspected Coronavirus Diseases 2019.
  • Vessel masters shall inform Coast Guard boarding teams of any ill crewmembers on their vessel prior to embarking the team.
  • Local industry stakeholders, in partnership with their Coast Guard COTP, should review and be familiar with section 5310 Procedures for Vessel Quarantine and Isolation, and Section 5320 - Procedures for Security Segregation of Vessels in their Area Maritime Security Plan.
  • Local industry stakeholders, in partnership with their Coast Guard COTP, should review and be familiar with their Marine Transportation System Recovery Plan.
  • Maritime facility operators are reminded that they are not permitted to impede the embarkation/ disembarkation of crew members as permitted under Seafarer's access regulations. This authority resides with CBP, Coast Guard, or the CDC for medical matters. Facility operators should contact their local CBP, Coast Guard, or CDC/health department offices if they have a specific request to restrict a crew member’s access.
  • The Coast Guard recommends that people review the CDC travel guidance and the U.S. Department of State (DoS) Travel Advisories related to COVID-19 .