Cyprus establishes new rules to support crew changeovers

Flag of Cyprus. Credit: IHS Markit

The Cyprus Shipping deputy minister, Natasa Pilides, has formally announced that new and procedures to facilitate crew changes in Cyprus during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, provided certain conditions are met, have been established.

One of the main conditions for crew changes under the new rules stipulates that prior to arriving in Cyprus by air, the seafarer must have been subject to self-isolation conditions for 14 days and that they have been subjected to a polymerise chain reaction (PCR) based COVID-19 test. A PCR test checks the presence of antigens in the body and detect if someone has the virus before symptoms appear. This test must have been conducted in the country they were in prior to arrival in Cyprus. If that was not possible, the PCR test must be taken in Cyprus upon arriving into the country.

Under the rules, the company or agent arranging the crew change is entirely responsible for arranging the transfer of all seafarers from the vessel to the airport and from the airport to the vessel, taking all the necessary precautions.

In the case of ship arrival times and airplane arrival times not concurring, or if the PCR-based test results are still pending, the rules enforce that company or agent will need to make arrangements in coordination with governmental authorities for the crew to remain in isolation at a designated address until the time of their departure. Where possible, the rules stipulate that seafarers should stay onboard the vessel during this period.

The relevant decrees issued by the Cyprus Ministry of Health also permit the long-term stay in anchorage of vessels, including cruise ships.

 “We remain committed to facilitating a smooth process when assisting individuals in getting back to their loved ones, which is so important at this difficult time. We will continue to adapt processes and procedures as necessary, ensuring we are doing all we can to support safe, efficient and compassionate shipping operations,” said Pilides.

These new measures come in addition to Cyprus’ earlier response to the pandemic, which included the extension of deadlines for Certificates of Competency, Certificates of Proficiency, Medical Fitness Certificates, Seafarer’s Identification, and Sea Service Record Books.