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Port Reopening Checklists

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Published August 3rd, 2020

Port Reopening Amidst a Global Pandemic

While most shipping docks remain open for the transport of essential goods, some closed borders to contain the COVID-19 outbreak such as in the United States and the Schengen area means that closed ports would soon be reopened, and both port authorities and maritime professionals should be prepared to manage the surge of cargo, ensure safe ship crew changes, and continue their operations with adequate precautionary measures in place.

This article will briefly discuss:

  • reopening trends amongst ports and the maritime industry;
  • why are inspections important, especially when reopening businesses involving ports?;
  • what is a port reopening checklist?; and
  • free port reopening checklists you can download, customize, and use.

Despite some international border closures, support for the continuous flow of essential cargo has encouraged supply chain operators in the shipping, distribution, and haulage sectors. Also, thanks to strenuous efforts to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, members of the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH) reportedly continue operations on “business as usual”, including Port Canaveral, Port of Los Angeles, and more.

However, 20 cruise ships are currently at port or anchorage in the United States with known or suspected COVID-19 infection among the crew who remain on board, and approximately 100 cruise ships remain at sea off the East Coast, West Coast, and Gulf Coast, with nearly 80,000 crew onboard.

Since the No Sail Order for all cruise ships has been extended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) until further notice, reopening ports of entry in the United States has increasingly become challenging. The industry has been working to build an illness response framework to combat COVID-19 on ships by:

  • monitoring of passengers and crew medical screenings;
  • training crew on COVID-19 prevention;
  • managing and responding to an outbreak on board; and
  • submitting a detailed operational plan to the CDC and U.S. Coast Guard for review.

The Impact of Reopening Inspections

As restrictions or policies are being modified according to the number of cases per country, the Passenger Vessel Association (PVA) recommends that domestic passenger vessels regardless of service develop and implement written procedures and practices for when and how they will reopen and provide service. Their reopening guidelines can easily get businesses started as it practically talks about:

  • monitoring employee health;
  • healthy hygiene practices;
  • physical distancing;
  • personal protective equipment; and
  • cleaning and disinfecting.

Inspections in these crucial areas can help companies involved in the maritime industry to identify vulnerabilities in their operations, mitigate exposure to heightened health and safety risks, and return to the business stronger. Moreover, keeping ports safe and clean is critical to containing the COVID-19 outbreak, and spot checks around the clock help port authorities to fulfill their responsibilities.

Elements of Port Reopening Checklists

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) released a recommended framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, including a protocol for ports to provide essential information to all concerned about special measures related to coronavirus. Port reopening checklists should at least cover the following:

  • General information on port operation during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • General measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Method(s) of providing health advice or alerts issued to port users
  • Health measures and screening procedures for seafarers arriving at the port to join a ship
  • Health measures and screening procedures for seafarers disembarking ships in the port
  • Special measures and procedures for conducting crew changes in the port
  • Designated zones or areas related to facilitating seafarer movements in port and conducting crew changes
  • Special local movement or travel requirements/restrictions
  • References or links to relevant local/national requirements or guidelines

To make it easier for port officials and maritime professionals to continue safe operations amidst a global pandemic, we’ve compiled 3 of the best port reopening checklists you can download for free and use with iAuditor by SafetyCulture.


Disclaimer: Please note that these checklists are hypothetical examples and provide basic information only. They are not intended to take the place of medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should also seek professional advice to determine if the use of such checklists are permissible in your workplace or jurisdiction.


Shine Colcol

SafetyCulture Staff Writer

Shine has been professionally writing about virtually anything since her internship for a digital publisher of niche blogazines. She is passionate about building a culture of continuous improvement in the environmental, health, safety, and quality space through well-researched, engaging, and impactful content.