Crew changes for both on-signing and off-signing ship crews are now possible in Queensland following the entry into force of a new class exemption for non-cruise maritime crew.
New border rules from the Chief Health Officer supersede all the previous directions from that Officer. The new rules continue to impose a general ban (subject to a variety of exceptions) on anyone from overseas or from elsewhere within Australia entering Queensland.
But the rules now also give a “class exemption for non-cruise maritime crew”, which means that maritime crew can enter, travel around, and leave the state subject to certain conditions.
The new rules align with the decision of the National Cabinet to have uniform and consistent non-cruise seafarer crew change rules across the country.
Who is crew?
“Maritime crew” is anyone required to be part of a crew operating, or providing services to, a commercial vessel that is involved in the movement of freight. This does not include cruise ships, which are still banned from Queensland.
“Maritime crew” also includes anyone involved in providing services to a commercial cargo ship such as marine pilots and marine surveyors.
Since last leaving an overseas port, the off-signing commercial cargo crew must complete a 14-day isolation, which can be on the ship or in accommodation. Time spent at sea counts toward the 14-day period. So if a vessel has sailed for ten days since last being in an overseas port, the remaining isolation period is four days.
Off-signing crew who have completed the 14-days of isolation can join another vessel, go to their home in Australia (if they are Australian residents), or transit and depart Australia by air.
Crew arriving in Australia by air can take domestic flights to join their vessel and isolate onboard. If on-signing crew have a layover anywhere at any time in Queensland prior to joining their vessel then they must self-isolate. On-signing crew must practice social-distancing, use personal protective equipment and practice good personal hygiene.
Both on- and off-signing crew should carry a variety of documents to demonstrate they are moving under the maritime class exemption.
Shipping Australia has provided a detailed update on our Queensland COVID-19 pages along with links to the original source material. It can be found in the entry headlined “Borders closed but crew changes are allowed” and dated 05 May.