A freighter docked in Port Alberni’s deepsea harbour drew some concern on social media last week, as local residents were concerned about the foreign crew members spotted walking around town during the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the Port Alberni Port Authority (PAPA) says that all crews are following regulations that have been mandated by Transport Canada.
“The regulations dictate that shore leave is available to all seafarers on the vessel for up to four hours each day,” explained Mike Carter, PAPA director of operations.
During that four-hour period, seafarers are allowed to visit a designated “haven” (a secure, indoor lounge area located at Harbour Quay) for internet access and some land-based free time. Crew members are also allowed to visit local businesses for essentials, such as food, personal care products and health care.
While on land, seafarers are required to minimize contact with locals and follow recommendations for COVID-19 prevention, with proper hand hygiene, social distancing and cough/sneeze etiquette.
“They have to go to and from their destinations directly for provisions,” said Carter. “They’re not being tourists.”
Carter explained that the freighter in the port last week had come directly from Asia, which means that crews have been at sea for 14 to 20 days.
“They’re probably quarantined better than most of us,” he said. “They don’t want COVID either—they don’t want to mix and mingle while they’re on shore.”
Arriving ships are required to submit a pre-arrival checklist 96 hours before landing, which includes information about the health of its crew.
“This vessel that was recently here was deemed to be healthy and COVID-free,” Carter said.