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Incoming seafarers are health checked prior to off boarding

Ship crews need shore leave

Prince Rupert residents can be assured incoming seafarers and vessel crews are health checked prior to coming ashore from the ships docked in the Prince Rupert harbour.

There are significant procedures in place to minimize any risk of transmission, the Prince Rupert Port Authority said, and it should be noted that there have been no reports of COVID-19 in the shipping industry on Canada’s west coast.

Most crews have been quarantined for at least 11 days on the transpacific voyage prior to arrival at the port and all crews undergo a health screening four days prior to arriving in a Canadian port. Admittance is granted only upon successful completion of the health check.

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The Northern View started to receive inquiries from concerned residents more than three weeks ago, however, answers to the questions posed were slow in coming, with various agencies stating the issue was not their jurisdiction.

A social media post on the Prince Rupert Port Authority’s page on March 19, has finally shed some light on the protocols.

“We recognize that residents of Prince Rupert have questions regarding the health and safety measures involved in the movement of goods through the Port of Prince Rupert,” the post said.

“The continued health and well-being of gateway workers needs to be a public and community effort with more than 1500 people in Prince Rupert directly employed in critical aspects of our gateway, and more than 3000 people in northern BC.”

“The marine community is doing its part to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as Transport Canada, in concert with multiple agencies including the Canadian Border Services Agency, the Public Health Agency of Canada, shipping lines, masters and crews, port authorities and terminal operators have robust screening processes and practices in place to ensure vessels and their crews, as well as gateway workers are safe.”

“Often crews are more concerned about the communities they visit infecting them than the other way around,”said the Port Authority.

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It is important for seafarers to have access to shore leave to protect the elements of their health, quality of life and emotional well being. It may hamper the efficient operation of vessels and the well being of the marine transportation system which is essential to the economy, the Port Authority said.

“We realize that these are uncertain times for all of us, with critical health outcomes in the balance, and a country that is counting on us to ensure that the safe and efficient movement of vital goods continues to happen. As a port community, let’s set the example of doing what it takes to win this battle,”

K-J Millar | Journalist
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