Taiwan: No shore leave for foreign seafarers, local crew to self-quarantine

Port of Taichung in Taiwan. Credit: Taiwan International Ports Corporation

Taiwan is suspending shore leave for all foreign seafarers and mandating a 14-day self-quarantine for local seafarers on oceangoing ships calling at its ports.

The Maritime and Port Bureau (MPB) announced the move was immediate from 20 March 2020. This is to prevent imported coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases into Taiwan, as the epicentre of the pandemic has shifted to Europe.

The bureau said that it is working with the National Immigration Agency, Taiwan International Ports Corporation, and police officers at ports to implement the measures.

Taiwan’s move to ban shore leave and impose self-quarantine mirror the growing number of lockdowns worldwide, with many countries closing their borders to tourists and non-residents.

The MPB requires all seafarers to report to the immigration authorities, and rental cars have been hired to transport local crew to their homes. Any seafarer who shows signs of COVID-19 symptoms will be sent to hospitals for testing and treatment.

Relevant information has been communicated to the National Association of Chinese Shipowners, local ship agencies, and seafarers’ associations, providing guidance on ensuring the health and safety of all seafarers arriving in Taiwan.

The MPB said port workers have been given gloves and masks amid the heightened emphasis on hygiene and disinfection.

COVID-19 first surfaced in Wuhan, China, in late 2019, and the disease has escalated into a global pandemic. As of 22 March 2020, the number of cases in Europe, including the United Kingdom, has exceeded 144,000, with more than 7,000 deaths.