Coronavirus on the High Seas: USCG Maritime Regulatory Update

Illness of a person onboard 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 U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port (COTP). Cases of persons who exhibit symptoms consistent with COVID-19 must be reported to the COTP.

March 26, 2020 – In Breaking News – The National Law Review

All vessels calling on US ports are now required to report crew and passenger illnesses to the Captain of the Port (COTP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) immediately, or 15 days prior to arriving in a US port.

The US Coast Guard (USCG) has deemed the illness of a person on board a vessel that may adversely affect the safety of the vessel or port facility a “hazardous condition” pursuant to 33 CFR 160.216.

Illnesses must be reported immediately to the Captain of the Port and the CDC.

(“The U.S. Coast Guard, like the rest of America and the global community, is facing an unprecedented challenge from the novel coronavirus. The Nation is counting on us to keep commerce flowing and to protect the Homeland. Leadership at all levels is key to navigating this together, which means looking out for each other, looking out for each other’s families, and looking out for yourselves.” – Admiral Karl Schultz, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. Courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard and YouTube. Posted on Mar 19, 2020.)

Additional guidance and reporting requirements can be found here: MSIB Number 02-20 (Change 3), issued on March 16, 2020.

The USCG issued MSIB Number 06-20 on Vessel Reporting Requirements for Illness or Death, which sets forth the definition for an ill person on board a vessel, including a fever of 100.4⁰F or greater that has persisted for more than 48 hours.

Illnesses on board a vessel must be reported to both the Coast Guard and the CDC, immediately.

Masters who fail to do so are subject to Coast Guard enforcement action, including civil penalties, vessel detentions, and criminal liability.

If a crewmember exhibits symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or other flu-like illnesses, it must be reported to the COTP.

Vessels destined for a US port are required to report to the CDC any sick or deceased crew 15 days prior to arrival.

Commercial vessels that have been in the affected countries within the past 14 days, with no sick crewmembers, will be permitted to enter the US and conduct normal operations, with restrictions.

Those countries include Iran, China, European states within the Schengen Area, and the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Crewmembers will be required to remain aboard the vessel except to conduct specific activities directly related to vessel cargo or provisioning operations.

Crewmembers with a transit and/or crewmember visa may be permitted to disembark provided they are cleared by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and, if applicable, CDC.

All persons that have been in or through an affected country may be subject to CDC screening prior to disembarking in a US port.

(“You are part of the Coast Guard family. Families pull together when times get hard, and that’s what we need to do for each other. We may be social distancing, but with technology we can still be socially connected. Remember, look out for yourself, look out for your families, and look out for your shipmates. We will get through this TOGETHER!” – Admiral Charles Ray, Vice Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. Courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard and YouTube. Posted on Mar 25, 2020.)

Continue reading… Maritime Regulatory Update — Coronavirus

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