2020 March 19 13:12

Port of Gothenburg remains open despite Covid-19

The Port of Gothenburg is continuing to monitor the spread of the coronavirus very closely, the company said in its release. Operational adaptations are being made on an ongoing basis. The following is the latest bulletin.

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, the Gothenburg Port Authority has decided to request a Maritime Declaration of Health from all vessels calling at the Port of Gothenburg. The routines have been in place since 3 February and will continue until further notice. Port of Gothenburg has also introduced a work rotation scheme to reduce the spread of the infection and to guarantee calls by vessels and the handling of freight, and to keep the port operating as normal.

The Maritime Declaration of Health stipulates that if a vessel reports that a member of the crew or a passenger on board is ill and has been in a WHO-classified risk area, the port’s quarantine plan is activated, and an infectious disease physician is contacted. The physician then makes a medical risk assessment.

The port has ongoing contact with infectious disease physicians in the Västra Götaland region. Demanding a Maritime Declaration of Health for all vessels calling at the port has proved effective and will apply until further notice.

The situation for cruise ships however is different due to the large number of passengers and crew members compared to a freight vessel. The routine for cruise ships has been adapted accordingly.

The cruise lines follow the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) coronavirus guidelines. Measures include the following:

 Passengers must be denied boarding if they have travelled from or transited any of the risk areas listed by the WHO in the last 14 days.

 Passengers must be denied boarding if they have been in contact with anyone exhibiting coronavirus symptoms.

 All passengers must be screened before boarding and ships must have additional medical expertise on board.

The majority of cruise ships calling at the Port of Gothenburg are operated by CLIA-affiliated cruise lines. The cruise season in Gothenburg begins at the end of March with a small number of calls before the peak season commences at the end of May and continues throughout the summer.

If there is an outbreak on board, a medical risk assessment will be made by an infectious disease physician, and the infected person or persons will be taken ashore.

The general principle is that the Port Authority follows Public Health Agency guidelines and instructions and any other directives in force to protect against infectious diseases.

Port of Gothenburg remains open “We are doing everything in our power to ensure the freight hub at the largest port in Scandinavia remains open for imports and exports. We are in a situation where we need to devote a great deal of time and energy to ensuring that everything continues to function normally. Thanks to the measures that have been taken and the considerable work that is being done by everyone at the port, I can state that operations are continuing without any major disruptions in freight flows,” said Elvir Dzanic, Gothenburg Port Authority chief executive.

To keep the freight hub open and maintain operations, ensuring that calls by vessels and freight handling at the Gothenburg Port Authority continue to function effectively, separate work teams were introduced some time ago. These teams of individuals with key functions work completely separately, the aim being that vital expertise is always available and the freight hub remains open and operational.

The port was also the first port in Sweden to demand health declarations from vessels calling at the port. Employees have been trained digitally in the best way to avoid the virus and to mitigate the spread. Anyone who can work from home is urged to do so and if a person has the slightest doubt about their health they must be ordered to stay at home.

“We took measures at an early stage. This has meant that we have not needed to act in haste, and we can instead maintain an overview of the situation, and devote our time to making adjustments now that the virus is more widespread and more difficult to predict. We are under no illusion that the Port of Gothenburg will not be affected but we are confident thanks to the plans we have in place that we can keep the port open and working effectively,” said Elvir Dzanic.

The situation at the terminals continues to be good. The week began with the arrival of the 400-metre giant Merete Maersk at the Skandia Terminal at 06:06. She is one of the vessels operating directly between Sweden and Asia on a weekly basis. Half an hour later, at 06:42, Magnolia Seaways berthed. She is one of the 20-30 ro-ro vessels that arrive at the Ro-Ro Terminal each week. More than half a million road trailers pass through the terminal each year, linking Sweden with the rest of Europe. Work at the Port of Gothenburg has continued in this way during the week with traffic flows and freight handling at the terminals remaining stable.

“We expect a certain fall in volumes in the light of the wide-ranging impact of the virus in the community. At the same time, we see freight being moved from small ports to us as we are a larger hub. However, it is too early to get the full measure of the effects,” said Elvir Dzanic.

Whilst freight traffic continues to function satisfactorily at all the terminals, there are major disruptions in passenger traffic. The Stena Line passenger service to Germany is still operating whilst the service to Denmark has been discontinued temporarily due to restrictions imposed by the Danish authorities.

“We are working in close dialogue with all partners at the freight hub, including Stena Line, APM Terminals, Logent AB, Gothenburg Ro/Ro Terminals, the Energy Terminal, the Swedish Maritime Administration, and other authorities and sector organisations,” said Elvir Dzanic.