UPDATE - Coronavirus: actions and measures in North Sea Port to keep the port operational and combat coronavirus – 20 March 2020

Published on Mon 23 Mar 2020
North Sea Port is still fully operational. Various actions and measures are being taken to safely assure this.

Last week, the Belgian and the Dutch governments announced stricter measures to prevent the further spread of coronavirus. North Sea Port is adhering to these measures. At the same time, North Sea Port is continuing to focus on keeping the port operational where it is possible and safe to do so.

Task force closely monitoring nautical and economic impacts

In addition to the Crisis Team, a Task Force team has been operational since Friday 20 March. This team is focused more specifically on the operational and economic aspects of the port and on safeguarding the supply of raw materials, goods, food and life-saving resources.

The aim is to ensure that, where possible and safe, shipping and all associated nautical activities continue in North Sea Port (ranging from possible delays to ships, the deployment of pilots and tug services and boatmen/dockers, the operation of bridges and locks, to loading and unloading and transport via hinterland connections). To this end, we are in close contact with companies, service providers and public authorities.

The economic impact on companies is being monitored on a daily basis. We are constantly looking at how North Sea Port can offer solutions to meet needs.

Enforcement of strict measures for shipping and health

Wherever possible, North Sea Port and the companies will continue their operational activities in complete safety. Strict measures already apply to shipping before it can call at North Sea Port. The arrangements already agreed – in consultation with the national health services GGD (for the Netherlands) and Saniport (for Belgium) – will continue to apply:

  • In the case of shipping, vessels must, as usual, complete the Maritime Declaration of Health. This procedure is closely coordinated with the health services.
  • The Maritime Declaration of Health must be completed 24 hours before entering the port.
  • If even a single question on this form is answered 'yes', the health service is immediately alerted.

A number of terminals have now introduced additional questionnaires or temperature measurements.

No ships quarantined, cruises halted

There are no ships in quarantine in North Sea Port at this time. The port authority is working very closely with the national health services in this matter.

All sea and river cruises have been cancelled until at least 17 April. This action was taken by the companies involved.

Reduced ferry services

The ferry services in the port area are very important for enabling employees to get to/from work. However, the timetables and services have been modified:

  • The bicycle/pedestrian ferry on the Western Scheldt (between Vlissingen and Breskens): will take no more than 100 people on each trip. Until at least Monday 6 April, the service will be operated by 1 ship. You can find more information on the Western Scheldt Ferry website. 

    Website Western Scheldt Ferry

  • The ferries in Langerbrugge and in Terdonk (Ghent): maximum 5 pedestrians/bicyles/scooters/mopeds per crossing, no restriction on cars or freight traffic. You can find more information on the Maritime and Coastal Services Agency website. 

    Website Maritime and Coastal Services Agency

Police surveillance in the port area

Police surveillance is in place in the port area in order to ensure that the measures imposed by the government are complied with.

Good response for call for surgical masks

North Sea Port, East-Flanders Chamber of Commerce and Portiz asked the companies in the port to provide any available surgical masks, safety goggles and other protective equipment for healthcare professionals and doctors in view of the urgent need. There has been a good response to this appeal. The healthcare professionals and doctors are very appreciative of this move.

North Sea Port makes bicycles available to companies

Every day, Max Mobiel brings up to 1,500 employees to work at companies in the Ghent area of the port zone. This service was discontinued on Thursday 19 March. North Sea Port and Fietsambassade (City of Ghent) are making 100 bicycles available which companies can offer to their employees so that they can come to work.

This solution is a collaboration between North Sea Port, the East Flanders Chamber of Commerce, Portiz and the city of Ghent and covers both the Ghent and the Zeeland areas of the port.

For more information, please send an e-mail to North Sea Port.

E-mail North Sea Port

Seamen's Institutes remain closed

The Seamen’s Institutes throughout North Sea Port are closed. The Seamen’s Institute in Vlissingen and Ghent have launched a service for seamen to provide them with data cards so that they can contact family and friends.

Welfare and safety first for North Sea Port employees

Certificates have now been issued for employees who perform essential work for North Sea Port – both those who have to cross the border and those who do not. As an employer, North Sea Port guarantees that the vital functions of the port authority can continue in the event of additional, even more stringent measures.

Additional arrangements have been made for the harbourmaster’s offices so that shipping can be supervised safely and smoothly.

North Sea Port buildings remain closed

The additional measures will also continue to apply to the public/non-public buildings and locations of North Sea Port until at least 4 April:

  • Only those whose visits are strictly necessary will be permitted access to the offices of North Sea Port. Additional hygiene measures are in place for the (small number of) colleagues who are present and extra cleaning is being carried out.
  • The Port House at Graslei in Ghent is closed. The exhibition about the port is therefore not open to visitors.

No cruises and port bus

The measures also mean that:

  • All North Sea Port cruises are cancelled until further notice. Those who had registered for cruises have been informed. We will look into replacement cruises at a later time, when the situation permits.
  • The North Sea Port port bus (between the port, the Stella Maris seaman's institute and the centre of Ghent) will no longer operate until further notice.