COVID-19: Introduction of Temporary Precautionary Measures through Port Notice No 10 of 2020
Port Notice 10 of 2020 entitled ‘COVID-19 Temporary Precautionary Measures – Framework of protocol for conducting maritime support services’ (the ‘Notice’) was published by the Ports and Yachting Directorate within Transport Malta (the ‘Directorate’) on the 26th May 2020. The Notice was published by the Directorate following consultations with the Port Health Office and has been published in furtherance of Port Notice 6 of 2020 entitled ‘COVID-19 Additional precautionary measures and instructions to marine terminals and port service providers’ which set out to provide measures applicable to all vessels cleared to obtain services in Maltese waters and ports.
The Notice has relaxed a number of restrictions affecting vessels departing and arriving in Malta by establishing a framework of protocol for conducting marine support services in Malta. The newly introduced measures apply to all vessels that have already been cleared to obtain such services from maritime services providers in Maltese waters and ports. Therefore, once any vessel obtains port clearance, the measures and protocols stipulated within the Notice must be followed.
By means of the Notice, the Directorate has permitted conveyance with STS surveyors and mooring masters so long as the stipulated protocols are satisfied by the aforementioned technical personnel. The Notice provides differing protocols to be followed depending on the time frame of the service in question, differentiating between service lasting a few hours but less than twenty-four (24) hours, service lasting more than twenty-four (24) hours, and service rendered outside territorial waters exceeding five (5) working days. In effect, the lengthier the duration of the service, the more rigorous the conditions to be satisfied become. The Notice also establishes protocols in relation to protective equipment to be worn and Infection Prevention Control (IPC) measures to be followed by the technical personnel providing STS or mooring support services.
Importantly, the Notice also affords discretionary power to the Superintendent of Public Health to decide, on a case by case basis, whether: i) to allow vessel maintenance requests and other requests related to the maritime industry; ii) to exempt from the travel ban any travel for repatriation or in connection with ship operations, and iii) to allow entry of fishing vessels during tuna season. Once the Superintendent of Public Health approves a request for entry, the Port Health Office will communicate the conditions and protocols to be followed by the necessary personnel.