BY ALEX DADAMU
A Customs Directive 3 recently issued by the Comptroller of Customs, Jim Sutton in accordance with the Joint Travel Advisory 3 forwarded by the Coronavirus Steering Committee in Honiara is currently valid for the Solomon Islands.
Jim Sutton said the directive applies to Cargo vessels, Ore vessels, Bulk carriers, Tank-ships, Supply and Bunker vessels, Logging vessels, Fishing vessels, Pleasurecraft, Yachts and Superyachts, Cruise liners and other marine and scientific vessels.
He further stated that at this point in time, the presence of Coronavirus has not been confirmed in SI, although there are some persons who have been placed under precautionary quarantine.
These measures shall remain in force until further notice. Customs Directive 2 is hereby canceled.
The directives listed in updated Customs Directive 3 are as follows,
1. All vessels arriving in the Solomon Islands may elect to clear formalities in Honiara or at Noro.
2. All vessels departing the Solomon Islands may elect to clear formalities in Honiara or at Noro.
3. No Health, Customs nor Immigration clearance services will be authorized at any other location, including at suffrage wharves.
4. Health Officials shall be first to board any vessel or craft. Health Authorities shall have the responsibility to clear the vessel from a health perspective. If an all-clear for medical assessment is given by Health, then Immigration and Customs shall board the vessel for subsequent clearance of cargo, passengers, and crew.
5. If Health authorities do NOT grant clearance for any passenger or crew, the entire vessel shall be deemed to have been placed into immediate quarantine until such health clearance or condition is complied with and the determined time frame has passed.
Obligations upon the Vessel Master
6. Masters must report any illness on board to Health at the time of boarding.
7. If any crewmember or passenger has joined a vessel (or disembarked due to health reasons) en-route to the Solomon Islands, the master must ensure that a person’s prior travel history is clearly documented. Even if that person boarded the vessel in a non-affected country as per Joint Travel Advisory 3, the prior travel history of the joining passengers/crew will determine the commencement of the 14 day period of quarantine for the entire voyage, regardless of where the voyage originally commenced.
8. All inwards Noro vessels placed under quarantine shall immediately sail under yellow Quarantine Flag to Honiara Port and must lie at anchor at sea and complete any quarantine time period and comply with any condition set by Health Authorities.
9. Supplies to quarantined vessels can be made during a quarantine period, however, Masters must ensure that suppliers are not permitted to come on board the vessel.
10. Masters shall ensure no temporary visitors come aboard a quarantined vessel.
11. Royal Solomon Island Police Force will be monitoring compliance
12. Cruise liners: will be permitted entry on a case by case basis – To assist decision making by the committee, Shipping agents should provide vessel original embarkation port details (and dates); itinerary for preceding 3 weeks; passenger and crew manifest showing individual passenger and crew travel itinerary for the preceding 3 weeks.
13. All shipping agents should ensure forward vessel voyage details and crew and passenger details are provided to Health/Customs/Immigration as early as possible to help us to mitigate risk.
Guidance Rules relating to vessel quarantine: Vessels originating from or transiting through a country listed in Travel Advisory 3 Annexure A (Restricted Countries).
The time limit for quarantine is 14 clear days at sea at the time of arrival in the Solomon Islands before clearance will be given. Vessels arriving within the 14-day window must remain at anchor / offshore until the 14 day period has elapsed and Health clearance is given.
In emergency situations only, decided individually by the Steering Committee, variations to these criteria may be permitted – for example, supply by fuel tanker when local national supplies are determined by the Committee to be critically low. “Urgent” General cargo and “perishables” will not be accepted as an eligible excuse to relax our vigilance and will be subject to the quarantine period.
Vessels originating from or transiting through a country listed in Travel Advisory 3 Annexure B (Affected Countries)
Upon arrival, Health Officials shall board the vessel and determine the state of health of passengers and crew. Based upon their assessment, Health shall decide to either
(a) Issue a health clearance and permit boarding of the vessel by Customs and Immigration OR (b) Determine that there is an illness on aboard or significant symptoms of illness aboard, and this decision will result in the immediate quarantining of the vessel and crew.
If Health Officials have quarantined a vessel that visited an Annexure B (Affected Country) (but not an Annexure A Restricted Country) they may elect to re-board the vessel at a later time or day in order to re-assess health of passengers and crew thought to be showing possible signs of illness during the initial boarding, and make a subsequent decision to release the vessel from quarantine (at which time Customs and Immigration will also board and clear) or continue the quarantine period of the vessel.