COVID-19: SHIPPING AND LOGISTICS – REGULATIONS, NOTICES AND UPDATES

Wednesday, March 25, 2020
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In response to the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, sweeping regulatory controls were introduced, almost overnight, by the principal governmental role players in the South African ports and shipping sectors. As the Covid-19 outbreak has evolved, the regulatory controls have changed over time.

They include the following, which are listed in chronological order and updated from time to time with the evolution of changes introduced, so please bear in mind that some of the entries may have been repealed or updated by subsequent changes:

24 February 2020

10 March 2020

  • Transnet Action Plan to Monitor the Coronavirus dealing with issues including hygiene and waste measures in ports and on ships, stowaways, arrival of foreign yachts and free pratique for ships. A copy is available from Transnet’s website here.

16 March 2020

  • SAMSA Marine Notice No 13 of 2020 – Coronavirus: Vessels and Seafarers deals with statutory surveys, seafarers and fishers, crew changes and ships agents. A copy is available from SAMSA’s website here.
  • SAMSA Marine Notice No 14 of 2020 – Coronavirus: Information and Emergency Contact Details includeed emergency contact information, medivac information, details of SAMSA’s task team and other helpful links. This marine notice has since been cancelled by Marine Notice No 26 of 2020. A copy of the cancelled marine notice is available from SAMSA’s website here.
  • TNPA Notice 3 on Health Risk Alert COVID-19 is a more detailed notice sent by Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) to South African Association of Ship Operators and Agents (SAASOA) members and others, notifying shipping lines and agents of TNPA’s intentions around issues such as health declarations by Masters and free pratique, PPE for pilots, waste removal from ships, especially those from most affected areas, crew changes and the like. This notice was revoked (see TNPA Notice 4 below) after the National Ports Act Regulations were gazetted (see below).

17 March 2020

  • SAMSA Marine Notice No 15 of 2020 – COVID-19: Update No1: Government Announcement With Regard To Port Calls From Vessels: To Be Implemented 18 March 2020 provided details of the Department of Health notice regarding the control of health measures in the shipping industry. This marine notice has since been cancelled by Marine Notice No 26 of 2020. A copy of the cancelled marine notice is available from SAMSA’s website here.

18 March 2020

  • The National Ports Act (COVID-19 Restrictions on the movement of persons and crew) Regulations 2020 were gazetted by South Africa’s Department of Transport. These regulations have since been repealed (see below). A copy of the repealed 18 March regulations is available from the SA Government website here. The effect of these regulations was as follows:
    • South Africa’s eight commercial shipping ports are open for working cargo.
    • Ships must apply for free pratique at least 24 to 48 hours before arrival in port.
    • Restrictions have been put in place prohibiting crew changes and the embarkation / disembarkation of cruise passengers in two ports viz., Saldanha Bay and Mossel Bay.
  • In ALL sea ports, no passengers from cruise ships may disembark unless they are South African citizens or permanent residents.
  • A limit on public gatherings in port precincts has been set at no more than 100 people.
  • Regulations under the Disaster Management Act No 57 of 2002 were made by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (“March Disaster Regulations”). These regulations have since been amended and repealed (see below).A copy of the unamended repealed regulations is available from the Government Printing Works here.

19 March 2020

  • SAMSA Marine Notice No 16 of 2020 – Implementation of March 2020 National Ports Act (COVID-19 Restrictions on the movement of persons and crew) Regulations 2020 deals with transitional arrangements for passenger ships already en route to, or berthed in, a South African port prior to publication of the above regulations. A copy is available from SAMSA’s website here.

20 March 2020

  • TNPA Notice 4 on Health Risk Alert – COVID-19 revoked prior Notice 3 (see above) and detailed measures around health declarations by Masters and free pratique, PPE for pilots, waste removal from ships, transfer of stores and spares, crew changes and other similar matters. This notice was sent by TNPA to SAASOA members and others, notifying shipping lines and agents of TNPA’s intentions. It was provided to us by the local representative of one of the shipping lines. This notice has since been withdrawn and replaced by Notice 5 (see below).

23 March 2020

  • National Lockdown announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa. A copy of his speech is available here.

25 March 2020

  • The Disaster Regulations of 18 March were amended for the first time March Disaster Regulations to provide further clarification around the national lockdown announced on 23 March including the closure of all borders for the period of the lockdown except for the transportation of fuel (including gas and coal). These amendments to the March Disaster Regulations defined “essential goods” and “essential services”. Essential goods were defined to include food, fuel, medical supplies and other basic goods. Permitted essential services included “cargo shipping and dockyard services” and “transport and logistics in respect of essential goods to neighbouring countries”. The amended March Disaster Regulations have since been amended further and repealed (see below). A copy of the repealed 25 March amendments is available from the SA Government website here.
  • In a statement by Minister Fikile Mbalula unpacking implications for transport during the Coronavirus COVID-19 lockdown, he said that essential goods will be allowed at commercial sea ports and that cross-border freight movement for essential goods will continue to and from our neighbouring countries. A copy of the statement is available from the SA Government website here.
  • In a statement by Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Mr Gwede Mantashe (MP), he stated that mining operations will be scaled down significantly but that, for exports, each case will be evaluated on its merits. A copy of the statement is available from the SA Government website here.

26 March 2020

  • The March Disaster Regulations were amended for the second time. The amended March Disaster Regulations have since been amended further and repealed (see below). A copy of the repealed 26 March amendments is available from the Government Printing Works website here.
  • Directions to address, prevent and combat the spread of COVID-19 in the Cross-Border Road Transport, issued by the Minister of Transport in terms of the March Disaster Regulations (“Cross Border Directions”), provide that cross-border freight movement may continue to and from neighbouring countries but cross-border road passenger transport is not permitted for the duration of the lockdown. A copy of the Cross Border Directions is available from the Government Printing Works website here.
  • Directions to address, prevent and combat the spread of COVID-19 in the Sea Ports, which have since been amended and repealed (see below), were issued by the Minister of Transport in terms of the March Disaster Regulations (“March Sea Port Directions”). A copy of the un-amended repealed March Sea Port Directions is available from the Government Printing Works website here.
  • The National Ports Act Regulations of 18 March (see above) were repealed. A copy of the repeal notification is available from the Government Printing Works website here.
  • The Director-General: Transport sent a letter to TNPA, issuing maritime security directives and maritime security level declarations, emphasizing that the berthing policy of TNPA must prioritise incoming vessels that are carrying essential goods such as petroleum products, manufactured and agricultural goods. Further details are available on request.
  • Transnet sent a letter to “valued customers” detailing measures to ensure throughput of essential services during the lockdown period. Ports will operate but with a limited service and reduced staff. Priority will be given to essential goods and services. Further details are available on request. Africa Ports have also written an article on the topic available here.
  • Transnet sent a memo titled “Cautionary Notice of Potential Force Majeure” to its customers. Further details are available on request.
  • We have seen a number of letters from, inter alia, Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) and Harbour Masters regarding particular arrangements at particular ports. Further details are available on request.

27 March 2020

  • We have seen correspondence suggesting that a booking slip system has been put in place for trucks entering and exiting the port of Durban.
  • Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula gave a media statement on implementation of transport directions during Coronavirus COVID-19 lockdown in which he said “We have taken note of concerns raised by industry of limiting the movement of cargo only to essential cargo. We have therefore resolved this matter and all cargo will be allowed passage”. A copy of the statement is available from the SA Government website here.
  • Transnet issued a Press Release titled “Transnet to Prioritise Transportation of Essential Goods” in which they detail which operations and commodities will be azettezed. A copy of the press release is available from Transnet’s website here.
  • The Minister responsible for Trade, Industry and Competition issued Amended International Trade Administration Act: Regulations: Coronavirus COVID-19 Export Control which include the requirement for export permits for essential goods. A copy of the amendments are available from the SA Government website here.

28 March 2020

  • SAMSA Marine Notice No 18 of 2020 – South Africa: 21-Day Lockdown informed maritime stakeholders of extracts from the March Disaster Regulations and directions (see above). This Marine Notice has since been cancelled by Marine Notice No 26 of 2020. A copy of the cancelled marine notice is available from SAMSA’s website here.
  • Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula provided an update on implementation of transport regulations and directions during the Coronavirus COVID-19 lockdown. A copy of his statement is available from the SA Government website here.
  • SAMSA published a note on their blog titled “Maritime sector Covid-19 restrictions under constant review as South Africa settles with 21 day lockdown”. A copy is available from their website here.

30 March 2020

  • Minister Fikile Mbalula provided day 3 update on the implementation of transport regulations and directions during the Coronavirus COVID-19 lockdown, including reference to arrangements for processing passenger ships and returning SA crew members during lockdown. A copy of his statement is available from the SA Government website here.

31 March 2020

  • SAMSA Marine Notice No 19 of 2020 – COVID-19 Process for extension of Seafarer Certification. A copy is available from SAMSA’s website here.
  • SAMSA Marine Notice No 20 of 2020 – COVID-19 Lockdown Process for extension of Statutory Certificates. A copy is available from SAMSA’s website here.
  • SAMSA Marine Notice No 21 of 2020 – COVID-19 Lockdown – South African Ports Open for Cargo Operations sought to clarify requirements around port operations and the movement of cargo through South African Ports during the lockdown period. It included the following statement: “Government has now decided that in the interest of ensuring a functional supply chain across all ports, that [sic] all cargoes will be accepted for loading and off-loading. Where possible, essential goods should receive preferential treatment over non-essential goods.” This Marine Notice has since been cancelled by Marine Notice No 26 of 2020. A copy of the cancelled marine notice is available from SAMSA’s website here.
  • We have seen a copy of a letter from TPT addressed to SAASOA and the South African Association of Freight Forwarders (SAAFF) purporting to invoke the provisions of the Force Majeure clauses in TPT’s commercial agreements and Standard Trading Terms and Conditions. A copy of the letter was provided to us by the local representative of one of the shipping lines. Further details are available on request.

2 April 2020

  • A third set of amendments to the March Disaster Regulations was gazetted. The amended March Disaster Regulations have since been amended further and repealed (see below). A copy of the repealed 2 April amendments is available from the Government Printing Works here. The 2 April amendments included the following important changes:
    • Borders at designated ports of entry are open for transporting fuel, cargo and goods
    • Movements within South Africa are allowed for transporting cargo from ports of entry to their “intended destination” provided that necessary precautions have been taken to sanitise and disinfect the cargo. We note that there is no definition for an “intended destination” and transport for non-essential goods is not an essential service, which makes it difficult to interpret the regulation. 

3 April 2020

  • We have seen three letters from Transnet to their customers, providing details of their operational capacity during lockdown and their intention to focus on minimizing congestion at Durban and on the export of certain bulk cargoes from Saldanha Bay and Richards Bay. Copies of the letters were provided to us by the local representative of one of the shipping lines. Further details are available on request.
  • Bowmans invited clients to attend a webinar titled “Moving cargo in times of COVID-19 – practicalities and risks” in which we:
    • Examined the latest transport regulations
    • Unpacked what constitutes “essential” goods and services
    • Discussed on-the-ground challenges in sea ports, inland ports and in the airfreight industry
    • Talked about cross-border road logistics challenges
    • Explored cargo risks as well as mitigation strategies, including whether judicial relief is possible during the lockdown period

A recording is available here. Please note that the advice provided by the presenters was based on the information available at the time of the webinar. Since then there have been further guiding documents issued by various role players in the industry and the advice given by our presenters may have been overtaken by new published documents.

  • In a statement by Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Mr Gwede Mantashe (MP) he said that mines supplying Eskom will continue operating while production of gold, chrome, manganese, iron ore and other sectors will operate at scaled down levels. He also said that a number of mining right-holders have been applying to the Department for permission to continue operating, although at significantly reduced levels. A copy of the statement is available from the SA Government website here. 

6 April 2020

  • An article published by FTW Online suggests that Transnet operations have been scaled down significantly during the lockdown. A copy of the article is available here.
  • The South African Development Community (SADC) adopted regional guidelines for harmonising and facilitating movement of critical goods and services across the region during the COVID-19 (“SADC Covid-19 Protocol”). Theses guidelines detail the cargos that may be transported across land borders. A copy is available from the SADC website here.
  • The South African Revenue Service (SARS) issued a Customs Practice Note on the Transportation of Cargo (Covid-19) (“Practice Note”) advising taxpayers of clearance procedures for essential and non-essential goods during lockdown. The Practice Note stateed that:
    • Essential goods may be delivered to consignees performing an essential service, subject to the usual customs clearance procedures and any required approval from relevant authorities
    • Non-essential goods must be stored at approved temporary storage facilities and may not be delivered to consignees until after the lockdown has ended

A copy of the Practice Note is available from the SARS website here. SARS has since issued an Explanatory Note to accompany this Practice Note (see below). Both this Practice Note and the Explanatory Note have since been replaced by a subsequent note dated 19 April (see below).

7 April 2020

  • Amendments were made to the March Sea Port Directions. The amended March Sea Port Directions have since been repealed (see below). A copy of the amended March Sea Port Directions is available from the SA Government website here.
  • Directions relating to sea cargo operations and air freight operations were issued by the Minister of Transport in terms of the amended March Disaster Regulations (“Agricultural Cargo Directions”). The Agricultural Cargo Directions provide for the export of wine, fresh produce products and agricultural cargo from sea ports and designated international airports. The Agricultural Cargo Directions include a provision for transporting cargo to the port of exit. A copy of these directions is available from the SA Government website here.
  • SARS issued an Explanatory Note to accompany their Customs Practice Note on the Transportation of Cargo (Covid-19) (“Explanatory Note”) providing more information about the practices to be followed during lockdown, particularly in respect of non-essential goods. A copy of the Explanatory Note is available from the SARS website here. This Explanatory Note has been replaced by a subsequent note dated 19 April (see below). 

8 April 2020

  • SAMSA Marine Notice No 22 of 2020 – Covid-19 Lockdown: Small Vessel and Essential Fishing Vessel Operations. This Marine Notice has since been cancelled by Marine Notice No 26 of 2020. A copy of the cancelled marine notice is available from SAMSA’s website here.

9 April 2020

  • President Cyril Ramaphosa announced an extension of the national lockdown to the end of April. A copy of his speech is available from the SA Government website here.
  • The rules published under the Customs and Excise Act were amended to provide that foreign-going ships are exempt from paying duty on stores consumed on board in port during a national state of disaster, subject to any prescribed conditions. A copy of the amendment to the rules is available from the SA Government website here. 

14 April 2020

  • TNPA Notice 5 on Health Risk Alert – COVID-19 replaced Notice 4 (see above). It detailed measures around health declarations, PPE for pilots, waste removal from ships, transfer of stores and spares, crew changes and other similar matters. It also provided that “[a]ny vessel from a high risk area is required to be isolated for a minimum of 14 days if the transit time was less than 14 days from the last port to the first South African Port”. This notice was sent by TNPA to SAASOA members and others, notifying shipping lines and agents of TNPA’s intentions. It was provided to us by the local representative of one of the shipping lines. This notice has since been withdrawn and replaced by Notice 6 (see below). 

16 April 2020

  • A fourth set of amendments to the March Disaster Regulations, were gazetted. The March Disaster Regulations have since been amended further and repealed (see below). The repealed 16 April amendments provided that movement within South Africa was permitted for transporting:
    • Essential goods;
    • Cargo from ports of entry to their “intended destination” (We note that here is still no definition of “intended destination” and that the requirement to sanitise and disinfect all inbound cargo has been deled from these regulations); and
    • Cargo currently at ports of entry, for export of goods to decongest the ports of entry.

The amended regulations also made provision to ensure the continuous supply of energy and petroleum products as well as for increasing capacity in mining operations. A copy of the repealed 16 April amendments is available from the SA Government website here.

  • In remarks by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on the amended regulations, she said that:
    • Essential goods may be transported “from warehousing sites to essential service providers
    • “Cargo may be moved from ports of entry to warehousing sites where handling and clearing of cargo is conducted, with the exception of the transportation of liquor
    • Cargo may be transported to ports of entry for purposes of exporting. We specifically make provision for export of cargo to decongest the ports.” However, it is not immediately clear how this statement is to be reconciled with the wording of the amended March Disaster Regulations which refer to the transport of “cargo currently at ports of entry, for export of goods to decongest the ports of entry”.

A copy of the Minister’s remarks is available from the SA Government website here.

  • In a statement by Minister Fikile Mbalula reviewing transport measures during COVID-19 Coronavirus lockdown, he said that the provisions in the Agricultural Cargo Directions regarding the transport of wine would be reviewed and that “[i]n a nutshell, we are no longer allowing movement of wines”. A copy of the statement is available from the SA Government website here.
  • Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Mr Gwede Mantashe (MP) remarked on the amended regulations, providing further insight into how production will be increased in the mining sector. A copy of the Minister’s remarks is available from the SA Government website here. Parliament has also appealed to mining companies to adhere to the March Disaster Regulations. A copy of Parliament’s media statement is available from the SA Government website here. 

19 April 2020

  • SARS issued an Updated Note on Customs Measures Relating to Covid-19 (“Updated Note”). A copy of the Updated Note is available from the SARS website here. The Updated Note references Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s remarks (see above). The Updated Note provides that Customs inspections will take place in respect of all cargo, not just essential cargo. Inspections of essential cargo will be prioritized. Customs capacity at ports of entry will be increased, subject to compliance with safety and hygiene protocols. The Updated Note replaces the Practice Note and Explanatory Note (see above).

21 April 2020

  • SAMSA Marine Notice No 23 of 2020 – Process for extension of Certificates advises seafarers, employers and crewing agencies of the process for extending the validity of seafaring certificates issued by SAMSA and institutions accredited by SAMSA. A copy is available from SAMSA’s website here.
  • SAMSA Marine Notice No 24 of 2020 – Medical Evacuations from Vessels (MEDEVAC) informs industry of the procedure to be followed when considering medical evacuations of crew members off vessels off the South African coast. A copy is available from SAMSA’s website here.
  • SAMSA Marine Notice No 24 of 2020 – The Merchant Shipping (Maritime Security) Regulations, 2004 details the additional information required by SAMSA in the Pre-Arrival Notification (PAN) reporting format. A copy is available from SAMSA’s website here. 

22 April 2020

  • Andrew Pike, Aneria Bouwer and Trudie Nichols represented Bowmans as panelists in a webinar hosted by WESGRO (the Western Cape Trade and Investment Promotion Agency) titled Update on cargo movements during Covid-19 lockdown. They discussed some of the challenges faced by the shipping and logistics industry in moving cargo in South Africa during the Covid-19 crisis, including cargo import and export regulations, and exemptions, what is technically possible for moving essential and non-essential goods, on the ground challenges and Covid-19 related VAT, customs and excise measures, including available VAT exemptions and customs rebates. A recording is available here. Please note that the advice provided by the presenters was based on the information available at the time of the webinar. Since then there may have been further guiding documents issued by various role players in the industry and the advice given by our presenters may have been overtaken by new published documents. 

23 April 2020

  • President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that, beyond Thursday 30 April 2020, there will begin gradual and phased recovery of economic activity based upon five risk levels. The current lockdown period is determined as risk level 5 and the intention is to reduce risk over time, eventually moving to risk level 1. The immediate first phase of relaxation of lockdown measures will be risk level 4, to commence at the end of the current lockdown period on 1 May. Each risk level will permit more relaxation of the lockdown rules, but will be predicated on the implementation of certain risk mitigation measures before it can commence. Accordingly, other than the commencement of risk level 4, there is no fixed timeline for commencement of the remaining risk levels. A copy of the President’s speech is available from the SA Government website here. 

24 April 2020

  • SARS published a set of frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) relating to essential goods, clearance and movement of goods and services rendered by Customs under the COVID-19 lockdown (“SARS FAQs”). A copy of the SARS FAQs is available from the SARS website here. 

25 April 2020

  • The Government requested public comment on a draft framework for the Risk-Adjusted Strategy to bring different sectors of the economy under Level Four of the Lockdown back to work. A copy is available from the SA Government website here. 

29 April 2020

  • The amended March Disaster Regulations were repealed. A new set of Disaster Regulations was gazetted (“April Disaster Regulations”). Directions issued under the amended March Disaster Regulations continue to apply unless amended or withdrawn. A copy of the April Disaster Regulations is available from the SA Government website here. They include the following provisions:
    • Borders remain closed except for designated ports of entry for the transportation of fuel, cargo and goods.
    • Rail, ocean, air and road transport is permitted for the movement of cargo to other countries and within South Africa, but only for transporting defined essential goods, certain imports for permitted manufacturing activities, cargo at ports of entry, certain goods in transit destined for neighbouring countries, defined permitted exports, “transport of goods within” South Africa and as otherwise determined in Ministerial Directions.
    • Work may be performed outside the home in certain industries, including those involved in ocean, rail, road and air transport of goods, but is subject to strict health and safety protocols.
    • The list of essential goods permitted for import includes food, hygiene and cleaning products, medical supplies, fuel (including coal and gas), components for aftersales vehicle services, chemicals to produce other essential goods, textiles for the production of protective equipment such as facemasks and ICT equipment.
    • The list of goods permitted for export includes agricultural, agro-processing, forestry and fishing products as well as certain manufacturing products and mining products permitted for production.
  • Essential services which are permitted include “transport and logistics in respect of cargo and goods as set out in Part A to neighbouring countries” (although this wording appears to have been taken from the March Disaster Regulations as there is no longer a “Part A” in the April Disaster Regulations) as well as cargo shipping and dockyard services. 

1 May 2020

  • In a statement by Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula on the Alert Level 4 transport directions the Minister said:
    • “The ban on passenger vessels and cruise liners remains in place, and only vessels bringing in cargo are allowed to call on our ports”;
    • “[W]e will allow the movement of cargo from our sea-ports to either warehouses or final destinations as provided for in the current rules”;
    • Freight rail is permitted; and
    • “Only essential cargo will be allowed to move across our land borders … [The] SADC Protocol on COVID-19 … details the goods that should to be allowed by member states to move across land borders.”

A copy of his statement is available from the SA Government website here.

  • The Department of Transport published a series of slides summarising the Risk Adjusted Strategy Level 4: Road, Rail, Maritime & Aviation Guidelines & Information. A copy is available from the SA Government Covid-19 Online Resource & News Portal here. 

4 May 2020

  • Measures to address, prevent and combat the spread of COVID-19 in the Sea Ports Directions were issued by the Minister of Transport in terms of the April Disaster Regulations (“April Sea Port Directions”) and include the following provisions:
    • Eight of South Africa’s commercial sea ports are open for cargo vessels to work cargo, undertake repairs, refuel and replenish provisions.
    • No crew changes are permitted in all commercial ports until further notice.
    • Passenger vessels may only call at South African sea ports to refuel and replenish stores and provisions.
  • Passenger vessels may not disembark passengers or crew except South African crew and returning South African citizens or those who hold permanent residence permits.
  • There is a further provision that “cruise ships” may not call at any South African sea ports except to disembark “returning South African crew and permanent residents”.
  • Repatriation of South African seafarers, returning to South Africa by sea or other modes of transport, is permitted subject to certain conditions which include a quarantine period of up to 21 days.
  • Evacuations of seafarers, passengers and mariners are provided for subject to certain conditions which also include a quarantine period of up to 21 days.
  • Particular access, hygiene and sterilization control measures apply at South African sea ports.
  • The transport of import and export cargo is also covered.

The April Sea Port Directions repeal and replace the March Sea Port Directions. A copy of the April Sea Port Directions is available from the Government Printing Works website here.

12 May 2020

  • SAMSA Marine Notice No 26 of 2020 – Coronavirus Information and Emergency Contact Details informs vessels, masters, crew, passengers, ship agents, stevedores, surveyors, ship managers, ship owners and all other stakeholders of steps that should be taken to manage any suspected outbreak of Covid-19 on board a vessel. It cancels Marine Notices 14, 15, 18, 21 and 22 of 2020. A copy is available from SAMSA’s website here.
  • SARS have updated their Reporting of Conveyances and Goods policy to clarify that exemptions granted in respect of cargo reports apply to advance container loading notices, advance cargo arrival notices (imports), departure reports (exports) as well as acquitted manifests. A copy is available from the SARS website here

21 May 2020

  • SAMSA Marine Notice No 27 of 2020 – SAMSA’s risk-based response to the COVID-19 Pandemic on Small Vessels and Essential Fishing Vessel Permitted Operations details the type of operations permitted under the various Covid-19 risk levels and will be updated from time to time. A copy is available from SAMSA’s website here.
  • SAMSA Marine Notice No 28 of 2020 – COVID-19 – Vessel Preparedness for Shore-Based Personnel Interaction provides guidelines related to safe ship and shore personnel interaction as well as protective measures to be implemented, for vessels, masters, crew, ship agents, stevedores, surveyors, ship managers, ship owners and other stakeholders. A copy is available from SAMSA’s website here.

24 May 2020

  • President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the country would move from risk level 4 to risk level 3 from 1 June 2020. Most sectors of the economy will reopen under risk level 3, subject to health and safety requirements. Particular COVID-19 “hotspots” have been identified and these will be subject to heightened health and safety measures which we anticipate will be published in directives which follow the new regulations. National borders will remain closed except for the transport of goods and repatriation of nationals. A copy of the President’s speech is available from the SA Government website here.

28 May 2020

  • The April Disaster Regulations were amended to include Alert Level 3 regulations, to apply from 1 June. A copy of the amended regulations is available from the SA Government website here.: These amended regulations include the following provisions:
    • Borders remain closed except for designated ports of entry for the transportation of fuel, cargo and goods.
    • Provision is made for humanitarian operations, repatriations, evacuations, medical emergencies, movement of diplomatic staff and other exceptions to be determined in Ministerial directions.
    • “Rail, ocean, air and road transport is permitted for the movement of cargo to and from other countries and within the Republic for the transportation of goods for export and for import”.
    • “Passenger ships for leisure purpose” are included in the list of businesses and other institutions that may not operate under Alert Level 3.

30 May 2020

  • In a statement by Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula regarding risk level 3 lockdown measures, the Minister confirmed that:
  • “The ban on passenger vessels and cruise liners remains in place”.
  • Moving cargo from sea-ports to final destination will be allowed.
  • Full cargo operations will be permitted at Mossel Bay and Saldanha Bay.
  • South African seafarers will be permitted to embark and disembark, subject to a mandatory quarantine period for those returning.

A copy of the Minister’s speech is available from the SA Government website here.

1 June 2020

  • TNPA Notice 6 titled Health Risk Alert – COVID-19 details the various measures that TNPA have put in place for vessels calling at South African ports including requirements for health declarations, PPE, waste removal, transfer of stores and spares, crew changes and other similar matters. This notice was sent by TNPA to SAASOA members and others, notifying shipping lines and agents of TNPA’s intentions. It was provided to us by the local representative of one of the shipping lines. This Notice also provides that:
    • “All Ports are open for cargo operations – essential cargo will be given priority over other approved cargo vessels. Transnet National Ports Authority will gradually ramp up our service levels to reduce the risks of exposure to it’s [sic] employees and also port users.”
    • “Any vessel from a high risk area is required to be isolated for a minimum of 14 days if the transit time was less than 14 days from the last port to the first South African Port and may request this for vessels from medium and low risk should there be any uncertainty. Vessels may be required to submit the temperature readings of all crew 24 hours prior to arrival.”
  • SAMSA Marine Notice No 29 of 2020: SAMSA Services Available at National Risk Level 3 details the services provided by SAMSA during risk level 3. A copy is available from SAMSA’s website here.
  • SAMSA Marine Notice No 30 of 2020: COVID-19 Level 3 Crew Changes summarises arrangements necessary for crew changes involving South African and foreign seafarers during risk level 3 at South African ports. Notice No 30 has since been cancelled and replaced by Marine Notice No 32 (see below).

3 June 2020

  • SAMSA Marine Notice No 31 of 2020: SAMSA’s risk-based response to the COVID-19 pandemic on Small Vessels and Essential Fishing Vessels provides guidance to vessel operators as to the type of operations permitted under the various risk levels. A copy will be available from SAMSA’s website shortly.

5 June 2020

  • SAMSA Marine Notice No 32 of 2020: Level 3 Crew Changes summarises arrangements necessary for crew changes involving South African and foreign seafarers during risk level 3 at South African ports. A copy will be available from SAMSA’s website shortly.

This note might not reflect the latest position. If you require more information, please contact our Shipping & Logistics Practice Group or Ports, Transport and Logistics Sector Group. 

For updates on developments in the aviation sector, see our separate page here.