Coronavirus

The coronavirus is affecting all of us, at home and at work. But despite the major impact on our whole society, Port of Antwerp remains operational and we are facing up to this great social responsibility. We all know how important it is to keep supermarkets and pharmacies supplied, in Belgium and in Europe. It is our job to assure this supply.

At the same time we must safeguard the health and welfare of all employees in the port. The Port Authority constantly follows the advice of the national and international authorities in terms of health & safety, and works actively to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus. We support our customers in practical ways, and keep them informed of the latest developments. If you have any questions, feel free to contact corona@portofantwerp.com.

 


Webinar - Port of Antwerp in times of Corona: ask us your questions'

 

The coronavirus is affecting all of us, at home and at work. It impacts production, transportation and logistics worldwide. Do you still have unanswered questions about the economic and operational impact of #Corona on the port of Antwerp? Simply click the button below and rewatch the webinar.

 

Rewatch the webinar

 


Frequently Asked Questions

 

What are the general preventative measures?

 

To keep the port operational and assure a safe working environment, we are following the guidelines of the Federal Government Department of Health regarding:

 

  • staying at home at the first sign of illness
  • regularly washing hands
  • coughing and sneezing hygiene
  • avoiding handshakes and kissing
  • keeping a distance
  • working from home wherever possible

 

What is the Port Authority doing about staffing?

 

Port employees are working from home wherever possible, up to and including 3 May. In the meantime they can of course be contacted by phone and email. Operational services are continuing as normal. The Antwerp Coordination Centre is and remains available 24/7.

 

What is the Port Authority doing about events, guided tours and port visits?

 

Events, guided tours and port visits are either cancelled or postponed to a later date. Only essential visitors are allowed into our work locations. This means that members of the general public are refused admittance to the Port House and other work locations, and that the MAS Port Pavilion is temporarily closed.

 

An overview of all events can be found here. All measures apply up to and including 3 May.

 

Are DeWaterBus and the Bike Bus still operating?

 

deWaterBus and the Bike Bus remain operating only for people travelling to and from work. Tourists and day trippers are asked not to get on board. In the meantime, the rule of keeping a distance of 1.5 metres of course still applies. A maximum of 45 passengers per trip is allowed.

 

Trips on deWaterBus can only be paid for electronically. From Saturday 21 March the deWaterbus sails with four ships instead of six. The service to the Kallosluis stop remains guaranteed. The Lillo and Liefkenshoek stops are temporarily no longer served.

 

The most recent information can be found in the Bike Bus newsletter (register at info@defietsbus.be) and on DeWaterBus app.

 

From Friday 20 March a maximum of 10 cyclists may ride in a Bike Bus. The bicycle bus also only rides for harbour employees. We ask all passengers to spread out as much as possible in the bus. We are currently looking into increasing the frequency of the bicycle bus. If we all take our responsibility, we will not give the coronavirus a chance to spread in the harbour. And so together we will keep our port running.

 

What if we have facemasks to spare?

 

Do you have facemasks to spare (however few)? If so, hand them over to the Port Authority, and we'll pass them on to hospitals and institutions that need them. They are desperately needed by healthcare personnel. Contact us at corona@portofantwerp.com.

 

What will be the economic impact?

 

The great uncertainty about the spread of coronavirus makes it difficult to assess the economic impact. Since the outbreak has not remained limited to China, it will inevitably have an effect on the world economy and on the freight volume handled by Port of Antwerp. It is still too early to estimate the impact on the flow of goods.

 

Operations

 

Apparantly storage facilities get full in and around the port area. What solutions is the port offering?

 

Port of Antwerp is a large logistics port, offering more than 6 million m² of covered warehouses, as well as a lot of outside space. For now, our companies are able to cope with the high demand. Moreover, we also received a number of warehouse offers from other ports and inland locations. Find your best warehousing solution.

 

How long do you expect to be able to store liquid bulk if conditions get worse?

 

Up to date information on available storage capacity can be checked with the terminals. Feel free to contact them directly.

 

How does the crisis affect inland transportation?

 

The closing of the borders and the shortage of truck drivers has an impact on the road transport (delays) however there have been "EU green lanes" put into practice.

 

Rail, barge and short-sea transport are good alternatives for the transport during the crisis. Rail transport runs smoothly and can offer sufficient and additional capacity due to less passenger trains. The level of human interaction is very low. There is an imbalance in import/export, however the transport in general is under control and securing the deliveries. An overview of these transport alternatives at Port of Antwerp can be found here.

 

What are your expectations for the development of trade in the next weeks?

 

We see that due to the Corona crisis carriers are blanking out sailings more and more. The impact on the network is significant on the Far East - Europe trade. However we now also see carriers blanking out sailings on the Transatlantic trade for the same reasons. A lot will depend on how the economy will react after the Corona crisis. 'Unblanking sailings' can be done fairly easy by carriers but the demand or cargo needs to be there.

 

Is the trade and the clearance of fruits and vegetables, especially coming from Africa affected in some way?

 

The coldstores and reefer terminals in the Port of Antwerp are fully operational. For now, supply from fruit & vegetable markets such as Africa and Latin America is still going smoothly. Both the Customs administration as well as the the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain are operational. The clereance and control of goods are not affected.

 

What is the status of the taskforce as per today?

 

The Taskforce meets on a weekly or biweekly basis to ensure a close follow up with all concerned parties. The outcome of the Taskforce meetings can be consulted in the newsroom on our website.

 

Do you do some desinfection of the containers at the port?

 

Desinfection of the containers is not specifically performed as containers are underway for a longer time than that can support the virus to stay alive.

 

Is it mandatory to wear a mask in the port of Antwerp?

 

Although face masks may provide some protection, the routine use of face masks is not generally recommended as protection against COVID-19. In Belgium, absolute priority is given to medical health services while distributing face masks. For this reason, the use of masks can not be imposed.

 

Are seagoing vessels being screened for illness (including coronavirus) before being allowed to dock?

 

All incoming ships must submit a Maritime Declaration of Health (MDH) 24 hours before entering port, in which the ship's master declares whether there is any illness or suspected illness on board, together with a list of the last 10 ports of call. Ships are now screened for this by Saniport, which of course now also includes coronavirus. All outgoing ships must submit an MDH if there has been any change in the health situation compared with the situation when entering port. You can find the full procedure established by the Joint Nautical Authority and refined on 3 April here.

 

What are the measures in case of illness on board of a seagoing vessel?

 

In case of illness on board of a vessel on its way to the port, the following measures must be taken.

 

Is it safe to open or handle containers or cargo on ships coming from risk regions?

 

The virus is passed on from person to person. How exactly this occurs is not known, but most probably by coughing and sneezing. The virus cannot survive for long outside the body, which excludes cargo and containers. Other coronaviruses do not spread in this way, and there is no reason to believe that Covid-19 is any different.

 

Will port operations (including locks, bridges, tugs etc.) remain assured at all times?

 

Operations will continue as normal, but with the following measures:

 

  • In case of illness, Port Authority personnel must stay at home
  • Going on board is being limited to the most essential visits
  • On board, direct contact with captain and crew must be avoided by keeping a distance, and the rules concerning hand washing and coughing and sneezing hygiene must be respected.

 

The Port Authority constantly follows the advice of the WHO, EU, and the Federal Government Departments of Health and Mobility, and will keep you informed of any changes in these.

 

What are the guidelines for the personnel of terminals and quays?

 

To limit the spread of the virus as much as possible, terminals and quays are urged to apply the basic rules for hygiene and distancing, namely:

 

  • In case of illness, stay at home
  • Limit going on board to the most essential visits
  • On board, avoid direct contact with captain and crew by keeping a distance, and respect the rules concerning hand washing and coughing and sneezing hygiene.

 

Be sure to follow the additional advice issued by CEPA. To give a specific example: at the truckers' reporting desk, impose a limit on the number of people who can stand in the queue, and draw lines on the ground for people to keep their distance in the queue. If possible, work with a ticket-and-call system. Ensure good hand hygiene for the use of hand scans and touchscreens.

 

What are the guidelines for crews and visitors of seagoing vessels and barges?

 

Contacts between crew members and crews of other vessels (bunkering vessels etc), surveyors, terminal personnel, pilots, shipping agents, dockers, government officials etc have to be limited to a strict minimum. In case contact cannot be avoided, social distance of min.1,5 m  has to be respected and the general hand and respiratory hygienic measures should be applied. For example, send documents by email instead of handing over physical documents.

 

  • Avoid entering the accommodation area of the ships, and work by radio as much as possible, and by non-physical communication at the accommodation ladder.
  • A suitable cleaning solution has to be provided for pilots and for shipping agents, surveyors, etc for cleaning equipment they need on board.
  • Personnel with symptoms of Covid 19 and fever will not be on the job. Checking the temperature of visitors is not necessary and the visitor is allowed to refuse.
  • The use of gloves and masks cannot be imposed.

 

The rules that apply to ships in all Belgian Coastal ports and Scheldt Ports, such as the port of Antwerp, have been set by the Joint Nautical Authority and refined on 3 April.

 

What are the guidelines for the personnel of terminals and quays for handling barges?

 

All limitations on barge transport and crews must be kept within the limits of what is necessary and proportionate, based on objective, non-discriminatory criteria. Everything possible must be done to keep barge transport moving as smoothly as possible, taking into account the measures to prevent the covid-19 virus spreading farther, such as:

 

  • Permitting barge crew changes that were previously scheduled.
  • Ensuring that crews have access to essential services, as laid down in the Ministerial Decree of 18/03/2020 (medical services, food supplies, etc.).
  • Ensuring that all necessary information and documentation can be exchanged digitally.
  • Ensuring that surveys, inspections and operations necessary for operation of the barge such as bunkering, water supplies, waste disposal etc. can be carried out
  • All this must of course be done while observing the necessary safe distance of 1.5 m between people. Entering the cabin or other enclosed spaces on board by non-crew personnel must be avoided as far as possible.

 

These guidelines apply in all ports on the Belgian coast and the river Scheldt.

 

What are the guidelines in case of a possible infected person on board of a barge?

 

In case of illness on board and if the barge is located within the port area or on its way to the port, the following measures must be taken.

 

What are the guidelines for ship’s crew and pilots for pilot boarding and pilotage?

 

As a general rule all crew that is not involved in the navigation is requested to stay clear from the workspace. During duration of the voyage the distance between persons should be a minimum of one and a half meter. You will find all guidelines set by The Common Nautical Authority and applicable in a.o. Port of Antwerp here.

 

 

I live in the Netherlands and the measures are different there. Which measures should I follow?

 

The rules of the country in which you work apply, not the rules of the country in which you live.

 

What are the guidelines concerning shore leave for ship's crews?

 

Ships should be very careful about permitting shore leave for their crews. Consider how necessary it is, versus the risk of them catching the virus. We advise limiting shore leave, crew changes etc. to the absolute essential.

 

Latest updates

 

 

Useful websites

 

 

Documenten

 

 

Contact

 

The Port Authority is there to answer all your questions. Contact us at corona@portofantwerp.com.