Cyprus Ship Registry: Updates on precautions for mariners in relation to Coronavirus “COVID-19”

Further to Circular 03/2020, the Shipping Deputy Ministry has issued Circular 05/2020 informing the registered owners, charterers, shipmanagers and representative of ships flying the Cyprus flag of the following new Circular Letters issued by the International Maritime Organization (IMO):

(i) IMO Circular Letter No.4204/Add.2 of 21 February 2020 containing the “Joint Statement of the IMO- World Health Organization (WHO) on the Response to the COVID-19 Outbreak”. While recognising the need to prevent the introduction or spread of the disease, the Joint IMO-WHO Statement inter alia notes that unnecessary interference with maritime traffic should be minimised. The Joint IMO-WHO Statement further highlights the importance of avoiding causing unnecessary restrictions or delay on port entry to ships, persons and property on board;

(ii) IMO Circular Letter No.4204/Add.3 of 2 March 2020 containing “Operational Considerations for Managing COVID-19 cases/outbreak on board ships” developed by the WHO. This document inter alia contains guidance on pre-boarding and pre-disembarkation information, pre-boarding screening, crew education, managing a suspected case on board, disembarkation of a suspect case, development and activation of a written outbreak plan for passenger ships as well as obligations of shipowners to inform the authorities of the next port of call of any suspected case;

(iii) IMO Circular Letter No.4204/Add.4 of 5 March 2020 containing “Guidance for ship operators for the protection of the health of seafarers” prepared by the International Chamber of Shipping in response to the coronavirus outbreak to support all types of ships and help shipping companies follow advice provided by United Nations Agencies, including the IMO, the WHO as well as the International Labour Organization and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

It should further be noted that following a request from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety an “Interim Advice for Ship operators” was prepared by an ad-hoc working group.

As per Circular 05/2020, all owners and managers of ships flying the Cyprus flag are advised to take note and implement the measures contained in the latest IMO Circular Letters No.4204/Add.2, No.4204/Add.3 and No.4204/Add.4 as well as the Interim Advice for Ship Operators prepared at the request of the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety. Copies of the said IMO Circular Letters as well as the aforementioned Interim Advice are attached on Circular 05/2020 a copy of which may be found in the following link: https://www.dms.gov.cy/dms/shipping.nsf/2F0A57C6CDE3D120C225852800471FBA/$file/Circular%202020-05%20(2020-03-11).pdf

For any technical issues in relation to the spread of COVID-19 requiring special permission from the Shipping Deputy Ministry, applications may be submitted to the Shipping Deputy Ministry and they will be considered on a case by case basis.

Please see further https://www.neo.law/2020/03/04/coronavirus-possible-effects-on-contracts-and-precautions-for-mariners/ in relation to the initial Circular 3/2020 as well as possible effects of the Coronavirus on contractual relations.

For more information please speak with Costas StamatiouVassilis Psyrras  or your usual contact at Elias Neocleous & Co LLC.