Queensland Slams Door on Cargo Ships - MSQ Exemption Granted for Singapore                                             

Further to the broadcast messages yesterday, regarding the Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) ban on all commercial ships from entering ports in Queensland if the ship, or any person onboard, has been in any country outside of Australia within the last 14-days.

Following industry lobbying to the MSQ, there has been an announcement by MSQ which provides 'country specific' exemptions for vessels departing from New Zealand, PNG, South West Pacific and Singapore origin.

Singapore was approved by MSQ and added to the list overnight.

MSQ Announcement                                        

Exemptions to the General Manager’s Direction – ‘COVID-19_15 March International Vessels’

MSQ has stood up a dedicated taskforce to assess all requests for exemptions. Assessments will be based on whether the request is justified as being ‘a significant disruption to the supply of essential trade to the State’ as well as whether ‘sufficient risk mitigation measures can be demonstrated, and verified, that protect Queensland’s maritime workforce’.

Requests that fall outside these strict criteria will not be considered.

Following Wednesday’s Direction a number of requests for exemptions have been received and processed.

Exemptions to the Directive have been granted for vessels arriving from the following countries:

  • New Zealand
  • Papua New Guinea
  • South West Pacific Nations (to be defined by specific island states).
  • * Singapore

Vessels departing from these countries have been deemed eligible for exemption based on a combination of the following:

  • Respective countries have taken early and proactive national measures to control boarders to incoming passengers,
  • Current rates of in-country infection are reported as low,
  • Verified port precautionary practices,
  • Geographical isolation.
  • In the case of Papua New Guinea and South West Pacific Islands, the continued provision of essential goods is critical for these isolated and vulnerable nations during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

* Singapore

I made the decision today to exempt Singapore from the Direction based upon the stringent COVID-19 precautionary measures that have been adopted in Singapore, as well as this nations relatively lower level of infection rates.

The Singapore-Brisbane container trade is also source of essential imports to Brisbane, much of which is under extreme pressure following the disruption to production in China over the preceding months. Singapore as such qualifies as constituting ‘a significant disruption to the supply of essential trade to the State’.

In granting this exemption I am also conscious of the welfare of seafarers and the ability to have some respite and getting ashore. Whilst the steaming time from Singapore to Brisbane only 8-10 days, many of these vessels then proceed to southern state ports and will qualify as serving a 14 day isolation and thus can proceed ashore provided no signs of illness are displayed.

Angus Mitchell
General Manager
Maritime Safety Queensland
Department of Transport and Main Roads

AFIF will keep members informed of progress.