Freight traffic through Cork Harbour has not been impacted by the coronavirus, said the Port of Cork, as efforts continue to maintain supply lines in and out of the country.
However, strict new guidelines are in place for all vessels arriving into Irish ports that will see ships being refused permission to dock until they have submitted a declaration of health as part of efforts to stem the spread of the virus.
It means ships or their agents must supply a Maritime Declaration of Health (MDoH) when arriving into ports, including Cork, Shannon Foynes, and Dublin.
The document will list all other ports the vessel has stopped in the previous 30 days along with the history of the crew. Any crew illnesses must also be declared in the document.
In a notice to all mariners, the Port of Cork harbour master, Paul O’Regan, said that prior to arrival and on initial VHF contact with Cork Harbour radio, each vessel shall confirm verbally that the MDoH has been submitted as required.
If the document has not been submitted then vessels will not be allowed to dock and will instead be directed to an anchorage until the MDoH is submitted and reviewed.
Other measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus include regulations to protect maritime pilots when they board inbound and outbound vessels.
These include no physical contact with the pilot, such as handshaking. “The bridge team and the pilot will respect each other’s personal space as practical during the pilotage transit. A recommended distance between personnel of 1m space is advised,” states the document.
Ships are also asked to ensure bridge surfaces, navigation equipment, and VHF radios are cleaned with an appropriate disinfectant prior to the vessel arrival at the pilot boarding station.
Cruise liners entering Cork Harbour have already been issued with new guidelines to reduce the spread of the virus.
Local tourism ambassadors who regularly board cruise liners when they dock in Cobh will not board vessels until further notice. Tourism information will instead be emailed to the vessel directly.
Tour operators bringing cruise passengers to various attractions in the region are also asked to ensure all buses are sanitised prior to passengers boarding for day trips.
Large groups of shore visitors going onboard shall also be prohibited.
Passenger details of those joining in Cobh must also be notified to the port authority prior to arrival.