As part of COVID-19 safety the US has introduced new safety requirements in the maritime transportation system. This requires all persons, including crew members on board ships proceeding to and trading within the waters under US jurisdiction to wear a face mark while boarding, disembarking and for the duration of the travel. Crew members and port facility personnel may be exempt from wearing a mask only when actively performing a task that would create a health or safety risk if performed wearing a mask and should immediately wear a mask when the task is complete. This exemption does not apply to passengers.
On 21 January, the US President issued an executive order on promoting COVID-19 safety in Domestic and International Travel, which required wearing of masks on certain domestic modes of transportation. This order requires masks to be worn on all “public maritime vessels, including ferries”.
Following this order, the Centre of disease control and prevention (CDC) issued an order that requires wearing of masks by all persons while boarding, disembarking, and for the duration of travel on commercial ships. It also requires operators of all transport hubs to ensure that all persons wear a mask when entering, or on the premises of the transportation hub.
This requirement applies to both passengers and crew working on ships that are bound for US and that trade in the waters under US jurisdiction.
CDC also gives a detailed description of how a mask must be worn, under which circumstances masks are exempted and so forth. The guidance can be found here.
The CDC Mask Order exempts the following categories of persons:
Vessel or facility operators, owners, or companies should provide clear guidance as to when wearing a mask would create a risk to workplace, health, safety or job duty for crew members and facility personnel. The company guidance should address specific tasks that cannot be accomplished safely while wearing a mask. A blanket policy cannot be issued to exempt all persons from wearing a mask at all times. Crew members and facility personnel may be exempt from wearing a mask only when actively performing the task and should immediately wear a mask when the task is complete. Since passengers should refrain from instances where wearing a mask may present a risk, this exemption does not extend to passengers.
USCG has issued Maritime safety information bulletin 02-21 and 02-21 CH-1 on this topic.
The requirement to wear a mask shall not apply under the following circumstances:
Operators of vessels and seaports that fail to implement appropriate public health measures, including the mask wearing order above, may be subject to civil or criminal penalties.
BIMCO recommends that ships to which this order applies make a logbook entry of when they started complying with this new requirement, for a smooth inspection, if any, when the ship reaches US.
Links to all the above-mentioned documents are listed below.
Access BIMCO's COVID-19 related articles and advice.
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