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.

 


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, currently until the end of August. 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. The MAS Port Pavilion is currently open to the general public (for the time being, depending on how the current situation evolves).

 

An overview of all events can be found here. All measures apply until the end of August.

 

Are DeWaterBus and the Bike Bus still operating?

 

As from the beginning of the crisis, both DeWaterbus and the Bike Bus remained operating only for people travelling to and from work. As of 8 June 2020, new rules apply to both DeWaterbus and the Bike Bus:

 

Bike Bus

The capacity of the Bike Bus is increased to 15 persons maximum on every bus. Although this higher capacity, we ask all passengers to spread out as much as possible in the bus. Furthermore, wearing a mouth mask or any form of mouth and nose protection is mandatory at stops as well as in the bus. Do this for your health, but also for that of your fellow travellers. If we all take responsibility, we will not give the coronavirus a chance to spread in the port. And that's how we'll keep our port running together.

 

Day trippers are only allowed during off peak hours. For timetables, please check the Bike Bus page: https://www.portofantwerp.com/nl/fietsbus

 

DeWaterbus

As from 08/06/2020 DeWaterbus is up and running again at full capacity and all stops at the Schelde are open. Wearing a mouth mask or any form of mouth and nose protection is mandatory at stops as wel as on the ships. Also here, we ask to keep maximum distance on the ships.

 

For DeWaterbus, tourists are welcome at any moment of the day. More information about the timetable can be found on: https://www.dewaterbus.be/en

  

What will be the economic impact?

 

Despite the impact of the coronavirus crisis on global production and logistics chains and a pandemic-driven drop in demand, the economic damage on the port has been limited. The total throughput of the Port of Antwerp fell by 4.9% in the first half of the year compared to the same period in 2019.  After a strong first quarter, the port experienced a decline in the transhipment of all flows of goods, with the exception of the container sector. For the third quarter, while the Port of Antwerp is still expecting blank sailings, it is also seeing the first signs of recovery and an upturn in the European economy.

 

Operations

  

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

 

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

  

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 includes 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 March 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 1.5m 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.

 

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

 

A mouth-nose mask is mandatory upon entering the terminal. This rule applies to everyone: dock workers, white-collar workers and third parties, such as customs officials, shipping company representatives and truck drivers. In other words, you must wear a mask in the buildings and during the transfer to your workstation. You must also wear a mask in the corridors, sanitary facilities, locker and lunch rooms. The rules at the workstations remain the same: if the social distance of 1.5 meters is guaranteed, a mask is not mandatory. The new guidelines apply to the entire Antwerp port area, including those parts that fall outside the Antwerp provincial boundaries.
 

What certificate is required for movement during the night hours?

 

Since the port is an essential sector, port employees are not subject to curfew restrictions for their work in the port. An employer’s certificate is sufficient for checks – certificates created during the first corona outbreak remain valid.
 

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 absolutely essential.

 

Latest updates

 

 

Useful websites

 

 

Documenten

 

 

Contact

 

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