While construction and port activity gets free covid pass: ‘The rest of us bear the virus brunt’

Leo Olivero

It went under the Covid Radar, or maybe, it didn’t, as this newspaper has repeatedly covered one part of this story? But now, some important aspects of Port activity, much like the local Construction world, is also making a mockery of the severe lockdown measures imposed on the rest of Gibraltar. Particularly, the over 70’s who have so far borne the brunt of the restrictions!

The recent news, that the Gibraltar Port Authority, who on the 26 March announced it was ‘not permitting crew changes’ to take part from Gibraltar due to the current health emergency, have now done a quick-turn-about within a short 10-day period. Because, on the 5 April, it issued another official notice overriding the first circular, allowing again, as if initially they had made a mistake, for crew changes to take place in Port waters, subject to certain measures. All this, while Gibraltar remains in serious lockdown!

Rock Considered Global Crew Changing Hub

Hundreds, if not thousands of crew changes take place yearly in Gibraltar Port and BGTW- considered, one of the main global crew changing hubs!

But it is also a fact, and this is reported by the shipping industry itself. That during the Covid situation there are obvious concerns with the logistics, safety and health challenges of allowing seafarers to sign on/off from ships or in bringing them back from overseas, including, the domestic travel and the mandatory 7 or 14-day quarantine involved in the larger context of combating the spread of the pandemic.

“There are currently 1.2 million seafarers out at sea,” said Guy Platten, secretary-general of the International Chamber of Shipping, a body representing national maritime associations. “Limitations on crew change have the potential to cause serious disruption to the flow of trade.”