Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) issued comprehensive guidance on 18 June allowing seafarers to be exempt from going into a mandatory 14-day quarantine in some circumstances.
However, readers should note that the usefulness of the exemption is restricted by the requirement that the next port of call after picking up an on-signing seafarer in Victoria must be an overseas port.
Like rules issued by the other States and Territories, Victoria’s rules follow a familiar pattern: there is a general rule (in this case a requirement for travellers to go into a mandatory 14-day quarantine after crossing the border) followed by specific seafarer exemptions.
There are two main ways for seafarers to be exempt. The first way is to ask for, and receive, a specific exemption from the Department of Health and Human Services. For further details, see our COVID-19 info page for Victoria.
The second way is for seafarers to fall within one of a series of exemptions.
- Mariners arriving in Victoria by air and who plan to join a ship
- Mariners arriving in Victoria by sea and who plan to join an international flight
- Mariners transferring from ship-to-ship in Victoria
- Mariners who live in Australia returning home
- Mariners returning from sailing international waters without having had any overseas stops
- Mariners that have only been sailing in Australian waters
- Shore-based professionals performing work on a vessel in Victorian ports
- International crew performing shore-based activities
- Crew requiring medical attention (for non-coronavirus or other listed human disease-related illness) who would not otherwise be disembarking in Victoria
There is a large amount of detail to be considered in each of these exemptions. Readers are advised to consult the detailed summary in the Victorian section of our comprehensive COVID-19 information pages.
The Victorian section of our COVID-19 pages contains links and appropriate contact details along with a copy of the factsheet.
IMPORTANT NOTE: MUST CALL OVERSEAS
Readers should note the requirement that the next port of call after picking up an on-signing seafarer must be an overseas port. If the next port of call is another port in Australia then the on-signing seafarer must go into, and complete, a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
IMPORTANT NOTE: CALLING IN NEW SOUTH WALES
Readers should note that the Port Authority of New South Wales will not supply pilotage services to any vessel that arrives at ports in New South Wales vessels that left any of Iran, China, South Korea and Italy within the last 14-days.
Furthermore, if any person on board a ship has transited through any of those four countries within the last 14-days then the Port Authority will also decline to supply pilotage services.
If a crew member has left, or transited through, mainland China, Iran, Republic of Korea or Italy less than 14 days ago, then the 14 calendar day count will re-start from the date of the last person joining the vessel.
Accordingly, there may be difficulties if seafarers from, or who have transited, any of those four countries joins the ship in Victoria and the next set of port calls is in New South Wales. In that scenario, the ship would be severely delayed before it could call at a port in New South Wales.
Limited opportunity for work-around
The new Victorian guidance does not give a block exemption for seafarers arriving by air in Victoria who would then take a domestic flight to elsewhere in Australia. So seafarers would not be able to fly into Victoria and then immediately fly to another jurisdiction such as Brisbane to join the ship there.