04.04.2020 CORONA VIRUS

  We believe it is important to keep you up to date with developments and as such will keep you informed of the current situation about COVID 19 to help you better communicate with your clients. 

Please find below our update of measures taken by the Dutch & Belgium government / Local Authorities and Port Authorities to stop the spread of the Coronavirus.

Preventive measures by the pilot:

  • The pilots and employees have been instructed to maintain a distance of at least 1.5 meters, avoid physical contact and follow the recommendations on personal hygiene.
  • The maximum number of pilots have been reduced to be to transported to and from sea by helicopter, pilot boat or, in case of outgoing vessels, by taxi.
  • Pilots will not shake hands when they come on board a vessel.
  • Pilots will do their utmost to comply with company policies on board vessels, but we kindly request your cooperation if a pilot does not have a face mask or gloves available (due to a shortage of resources the delivery time of new stocks is very long). If requested, pilots will use sanitizer, a face mask or gloves offered by the captain or the crew.

Preventive measures by the ship:

  • We also need to ensure that all ships are safe for the pilots. In order to mitigate the transmission of the coronavirus, we kindly request that the following measures be taken prior to pilot boarding.
  • Where possible, one hour before the pilot embarkation time, non-essential crew should remain clear of the designated route from the pilot embarkation point (either pilot ladder, accommodation ladder, etc.) to the wheelhouse, especially where the route is within enclosed spaces.
  • Immediately prior to pilot embarkation, all surfaces and equipment in the wheelhouse, or on the bridge wings, that the pilot may touch must be cleaned with a suitable cleaning solution.
  • Where possible, the route from the embarkation point to the wheelhouse should be via the open deck.
  • As a general rule we request that all crew that is not involved in the navigation is clear from the workspace. During the voyage the distance between persons should be a minimum of 1,5 meters. We respectfully request the wheelhouse is cleared of all crew not essential to the navigation of the vessel.
  • The wheelhouse, where possible, should remain well ventilated via the opening of external doors or windows.
  • We request crew entering the bridge thoroughly clean hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water - hand sanitation is key in preventing transmission of the virus!
  • On board, the pilot will use his own equipment as much as possible and will be reluctant to touch the bridge equipment. If he wishes to adjust any settings of the bridge equipment, he might request the ship’s crew to do this for him.
  • Ships' crews and personnel on the quay/terminals will mainly communicate at a distance (by radio or telephone).
  • The rules of social distancing are to be observed as much as possible, in particular by keeping a distance of 1.5 metres between people.
  • Documents are to be exchanged digitally wherever possible, so as to limit human contact to the minimum

Measures taken in The Netherlands

  • All ports are fully operational
  • In response to the coronavirus outbreak, the port of Rotterdam has tightened regulations for ships in the port area. These rules apply both to incoming and outgoing vessels.
    Before ships are allowed to enter the port, they need to submit a Maritime Declaration of Health (MDOH) to the Harbour Coordination Center (HCC). Ships in non-essential categories – cruise liners and working vessels, for example – are subject to a stricter admission policy.

    Coronavirus on board a vessel
    If a crew member on board a vessel is displaying symptoms of COVID-19, the ship’s captain is required to inform the HCC by telephone. The HCC will then notify the Municipal Health Service (GGD), after which a doctor will contact the captain for further information. The doctor will only board the ship in very urgent cases.

    Crew members suffering from mild COVID-19 complaints are required to stay on board and will be isolated from the rest of the crew. The captain is required to notify the Port Health Authority of this measure via the Maritime Declaration of Health and provide the HCC with daily status reports.

    If the Municipal Health Service determines that a sick crew member can no longer remain in isolation on board the vessel, or if there are insufficient options to isolate the crew member, it may decide to transfer him or her to shore for care and isolation.

    If the Municipal Health Service/physician determines that the patient’s condition is life-threatening, he or she will be admitted to a Dutch hospital.

    Shore leave
    Short-term shore leaves are strictly discouraged. Crew members are only permitted to go ashore for medical reasons.

    Boarding vessels
    The only people permitted to board vessels are medical professionals, personnel engaged in strictly necessary activities like provisioning and repairs, and government employees.

    Crew changes
    In consultation with a number of parties, including the terminals, ships’ agents, the inland shipping sector and the Port of Rotterdam Authority, it has been decided to execute these crew changes as far as possible via the landward side – provided this is done in a controlled fashion and in accordance with current regulations.

    Port operations
    Cargo operations can go ahead as planned even when a crew member tests positive for the coronavirus. However, the other crew members are not allowed to come in contact with port personnel.

    Ship departures
    In principle, ships carrying a crew member who suffers from mild corona symptoms are allowed to leave the port. This is evaluated on a case by case basis. Pilotage requirements are taken into account in the decision whether or not to authorise the departure. If the ship’s departure requires a pilot to step on board the ship, it has been agreed that the pilots, the Municipal Health Service and the Port of Rotterdam Authority will confer about the details of this departure and its execution.
  • The Dutch government decided on 31th of March 2020 to extend the measures until April 28, 2020
  • Crew changes are still possible, however, there are more and more Terminals who forbid crew to access the Terminal and therefore there are occasions that a crew change could only take place by a small crew tender.
  • Crew Changes are still possible, however the travel time of those seamen should be limited to maximal 4 hours. Meaning that seamen should be within the 4 hours on board or at the airport.
  • Extra procedures apply for crewmembers entering a Terminal, some Terminals even decided to forbid crew changes via their premises. Please check with your agent prior making crew change arrangements.   
  • The mayor of Amsterdam has decided to close the port of Amsterdam for cruise ships (river and sea cruise ships) from Monday March 16th 2020 until further notice.
  • ALL seagoing vessels must submit the Maritime Declaration of Health (MDoH) in good time. It should be sent by email to the Port Health Authority Rotterdam (PHAR): (link sends e-mail). This MDoH must have been signed in the last 24 hours and it must be sent at least 6 hours prior to arrival at Pilot Station.
  • In the Netherlands, the MDoH is used to report possible infectious diseases to the authorities. Some countries work with a yellow quarantine flag. This is not necessary in the Netherlands. As soon as a ship has submitted an MDoH and it has been assessed by the Municipal Health Service, the captain will be informed whether additional measures are necessary. If a ship continues to sail under a yellow flag, we request you to inform the Port Coordination Centre (+31 (0)10 252 1000 or VHF channel 11) OR via the Agent
  • In total, since late February, 6,875 patients have been hospitalized because of a coronavirus infection. The number of reports of deaths decreased last week.
  • In any case, the Netherlands will continue to apply the current measures until the end of this month to prevent the further spread of the new coronavirus.

Measures taken in Belgium

  • All ports are fully operational.
  • Belgium has been carrying out border checks in order to limit unnecessary border traffic. If you live in Belgium and, because of the nature of your work, you have to work at UM, this is permitted, provided you can show an employer's declaration from your manager. For 'crucial professions', the Belgian government now also offers the possibility to cross the border with priority by sticking a vignette in your windshield. We as Agents do have such a declaration / vignette.
  • Crew Change Transport. Normal sedan taxi’s are only allowed to transport 1 person each time, minibuses are only allowed to transport up to a maximum of 3 persons.
  • The Immigration do not issue new Visa’s, only seamen who are holding a Visa are allowed to depart.
  • Brussel Airlines decided to temporarily suspend our flight operations from Saturday, 21 March until 19 April 2020 included.
  • The Port Authority of Antwerp is responsible  to actively help stem the further spread of the coronavirus. At the same time, they are working hard to keep the Antwerp port fully operational.
  • On Thursday night (12/03) Belgium PM Wilmès announced cafés and restaurants would be closed, schools too starting Monday (16-03-2020).  Schools will have to provide child care for the children of health workers. All recreational and sporting events are being cancelled. 
  • Everyone who is nursing respiratory problems, will be treated as a potential corona patient and has to call the doctor (don't go out to the doctor's cabinet, but make a phone call). If you combine these symptoms with coughing or sneezing and/or fever, the doctor may send you to hospital to be tested. If you just have a cold, this is of course not the case, but you will have to stay home for seven days anyway. A doctor's note will be issued, as doctors have received new guidelines.
  • All football games in the top flight will be played behind closed doors.
  • Big cultural institutions in Antwerp and Brussels, such as De Singel, Opera Ballet Vlaanderen (Antwerp) and the KVS (Brussels) are cancelling all events until the end of March. Those that purchased a ticket, will receive a message. The renowned Brussels concert hall AB will close its doors until the end of the month.
  • The city of Antwerp is closing all its sports and youth infrastructure. Local city services will apply a skeleton roster. 
  • In Belgium, more than 5,500 people are currently hospitalized, of which more than 1,250 are in intensive care. 1,447 people died from the corona virus.
  • The measures against the coronavirus will be extended until at least April 19. If the number of hospital admissions does not decrease thereafter, the lockdown remains in effect until 3rd of May 2020.



WEB LINKS to local Ports in The Netherlands and Belgium:

  • Port of Rotterdam
  • Port of Amsterdam
  • Ports of Vlissingen, Ternuezen, Sluiskil & Ghent
  • Ports of Delfzijl & Eemshaven
  • Port of Harlingen
  • Port of Den Helder
  • Port of Zeebrugge
  • Port of Antwerp