EMSA and ECDC issue guidance in response to COVID-19 challenges
In their joint guidance, the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) outline ways to facilitate the gradual restart of cruise ship operations which were seriously affected by the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The guidance follows a goal-based approach and identifies measures to be taken on ship and ashore addressing health-related issues for passengers, crews as well as the visited communities in order to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Planning and coordination between all parties involved will be crucial.
The safe operation of any passenger ship normally requires the involvement of several parties - from the shipping company and crew to the port and terminal where the ship will berth/anchor and visit. That is even more so when cruise ships are gradually allowed back into service. It is recommended that measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission on board or during boarding and disembarking are in place, applied and verified.
The recommendations presented in the joint guidance focus on fostering cooperation between all parties involved and on measures that would enable cruise ships to gradually resume operations under the ensuing pandemic. More specifically they cover:
- the development of a Company and Ship Management Plan based upon tailor-made COVID-19 risk assessment by the (cruise) company, proposing also suitable mitigation measures;
- the development of a Management plan for each Member State/port/terminal that receives cruise ships, for which measures are also suggested;
- recommended elements on which the (cruise) company and the port/terminal receiving the ship should agree in advance, including cooperation in case of a COVID-19 outbreak on board.
The guidance is meant for cruise ships flying flags of countries of the European Union and the European Economic Area (EU/EEA) that are engaged in international voyages and for cruise ships calling at an EU/EEA port.