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April 27, 2020
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Covid-19: Shipping, Ports and Terminals

The rapid spread of the coronavirus has caused devastating humanitarian and economic effects to individuals and businesses in various industries and sectors worldwide. Particularly global shipping and trade have been severely affected. Given that over 90% of international trade was carried by sea, maritime transport remains essential to the world economy.

Further to local and international emergency laws and regulations, including restriction measures at ports and port installations, along with the decrease in demand and growth, a significant effect throughout the shipping industry has been created.

Of course, given the uncertainty involved and lack of foreseeability, it is still not possible to accurately assess the impact of the coronavirus to the global shipping and trading industry.

Health & Safety

By putting people first and emphasizing on public health and security, appropriate measures have also been implemented by domestic and international ports and terminals. It is of utmost importance to ensure that our ports and port installations remain operative and that the shipping industry continues to securely provide the necessary food and goods to everywhere needed.

Needless to stress that the Cyprus ports and port installations comprise of critical infrastructure utilised in support of the country against the coronavirus disease. There is no doubt that the consistent and sustainable operation of ports and terminals is necessary to prevent any shortage in supply of essential supplies for the public.

With public health and safety as a priority, The Cyprus Minister of Transport, Communications and Works, in exercising the powers conferred upon him by article 14 (1) of the Ports Authority Law of 1973 to 2016, issued the “Instructions” regarding the implementation of restrictive measures at ports and port installations in Cyprus to counter the coronavirus pandemic. The restrictive measures have been implemented by the Cyprus Ports Authority as well as contractors, operators and licensed agents for port services and port installations.

Restrictive Measures

Please find below certain restrictive measures implemented.

  1. Disembarkation of passengers and crew or change of crew members of ships/boats of any type, including cruise ships is prohibited both in port and out of port.
  2. Crews of commercial vessels with Cyprus ports registered as their permanent base, having performed international voyages outside territorial waters, and made contact with other ships or ports abroad, are obliged on their return to Cyprus’ ports to strictly comply with the instructions of the Medical and Health Services. Such instructions include self-isolation for a period of 14 days. When such ships perform routes within territorial waters, there will be no limitations, provided the crew members are employed by the same company and on condition that when they service other ships they do not come into contact with their crews.
  3. As regards naval ships, while entry into a port is permitted following a Note Verbale, disembarkation of crew will not be permitted.
  4. As regards UNIFIL i.e. Movement of Members of the UNIFIL Command, which is based on shore installations at Limassol port, is permitted. The crew members of UNIFIL may disembark only to be directly transported to a specific hotel for self-isolation however.
  5. In the case of a medical emergency situation involving a passenger or a crew member on board a vessel, either at anchorage area or in the port, shipping agents representing the vessel carrying the sick passenger/crew member, are allowed, by exemption, to proceed with the appropriate arrangements following coordination and consultation with the Medical and Public Health Services, which will arrange the transfer and the medical treatment of the patient. Such requests may also be submitted through the Search and Rescue Coordination Centre, in coordination with the Medical and Public Health Services.

The full text of the Instructions may be accessed at https://bit.ly/2S8Max9 and

Requests to Cyprus Ports Authority

Importantly, any requests submitted to the Cyprus Ports Authority by way of exception for permission for the movement of citizens with regard to the implementation of the above restrictive measures, will be forwarded by the Cyprus Ports Authority to the Minister of Transport, Communications and Works for review and decision-making.

Cyprus Shipping Industry

Important developments constantly reshape the shipping industry, which ultimately adapts to the new requirements. Particularly given the uncertainty of the future, the relevant players need custom-made, long-term solutions for their commercial operations. Cyprus maintains its leading position in the shipping industry, having the 11th largest fleet globally and the 3rd largest fleet in Europe.

The Cyprus flag adheres to the safety and security standards, and is on the “White List” of the Paris and Tokyo Memoranda of Understanding in relation to effective port State control to eliminate substandard shipping and promote maritime safety, protect the marine environment and safeguard working conditions on board ships. Cyprus also has a substantial input in maritime for a and international organisations, including the International Maritime Organisation, International Labour Organisation and the European Union. Cyprus has long been a fundamental, geostrategic location as the third largest island in the Mediterranean crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa. Organisations ranging from private or family businesses, startups and multinationals establish headquarters in Cyprus.

The coastal business centre of Limassol is still a well-regarded and long-established ship registration, finance and management centre. It is home to numerous prestigious shipping companies, agents, distributors and managers. Limassol has a long history as a trustworthy hub for shipping business between Europe, Asia and Africa. In fact, Limassol caters for more than 200 companies related to shipping ranging from ship ownership, management, insurance, finance, brokerage, bunkering, chartering and maritime training, amongst others.

With respect to taxation, the favourable EU-approved tonnage tax regime for shipping activities in Cyprus contributes to its appeal as an international maritime centre. In addition, the Cyprus Yacht VAT and leasing scheme applies to pleasure yachts accordingly.

Moreover, the recent amendments to the Cyprus Alternative Investments Funds and the Cyprus Investment Programme regimes give way to investment in shipping activities.

RELATED INSIGHTS FROM OUR SHIPPING PRACTICE GROUP

OUR SHIPPING PRACTICE GROUP

The Shipping Practice Group of our firm advises on the appropriate legal structure and financing vehicle for shipping activities, and all ancillary matters.

Please find below an outline of the services offered by our Shipping Practice Group.

  • Ship Registration
  • Ship Finance
  • Security Registration
  • Security Enforcement
  • Ship Sale and Purchase Agreements
  • Shipbuilding Contracts
  • Ship Management Contracts
  • International Law of the Sea
  • Marine Pollution and Security
  • Environmental Law
  • Tax

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any question or require any assistance in such matters.

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