This is an extension of a previous ban for vessels and persons, which have visited South Africa or the United Kingdom within 21 days before arriving Hong Kong.
The announcement of stricter quarantine measures came on 20 January 2021, as new virus variants of COVID-19 with higher transmissibility have been reported to be circulating in these countries.
The Department of Health will invoke the Prevention and Control of Disease (Regulation of Cross-boundary Conveyances and Travellers) Regulation (Cap. 599H) to prohibit vessels which have visited Brazil, Ireland, South Africa or the United Kingdom in the past 21 days from entering Hong Kong waters.
This follows a series of stricter quarantine measures implemented by governments, mainly in Asia, in response to the the new COVID-19 variants.
To remind, Philippines has recently added more countries on temporary ban for crew changes, growing the number to 33. With effect from 3rd January, MPA Singapore has also banned all long-term pass holders and short-term visitors with recent travel history to South Africa within the last 14 days, including crew.
This situation has triggered calls this week from the shipping industry, led by ICS, to put seafarers at the head of the vaccine queue and to designate them as key workers, to prevent a repeat of the 2020 ‘crew change crisis’.
While more than 40 countries have so far recognised seafarers as key workers, the majority of seafaring nations have not, creating growing demand from within industry for new solutions to the issue of vaccine distribution.