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Singapore restricts seafarers from some African countries over variant concerns

MPA describes the suspension as ‘a precautionary measure’, which is part of the country’s broader ban on entry of residents and visitors with recent travel to seven African countries

Move confirms industry concerns that stricter border controls because of the new strain could lead to further headwinds facing crew rotation

SINGAPORE, a key maritime hub, has suspended crew changeover and vaccination for seafarers with recent travel to a string of African countries following the emergence of the Omicron variant.

The move follows industry’s concerns that stricter border controls led by the new strain could lead to further headwinds facing crew rotation.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore said in a circular that the halt of practices applies to those who have travelled to Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe within the past 14 days.

“This includes sign-on crew travelling to Singapore by flight as well as sign-off crew from vessels that have called at [the same counties].”

Sign-on crew transiting those Africa countries on their connecting flight to Singapore are also affected.

The new rules are part of the city state’s broader ban on the entry of all long-term pass holders and short-term visitors who have been to the above-mentioned countries, from which vessels are also subject to restrictive measures recently issued by the Singapore Economic Development Board.

There are already fears in the industry that seafarers will once again fall victim to the travel restrictions that have now been reinstated by more than 50 countries since the new coronavirus variant was identified in South Africa last month.

Governments appeared to be going for the original playbook when the pandemic first broke out in March 2020, a spokesperson of the International Chamber of shipping told Lloyd’s List earlier this week.

“There is concern about the potential impact, especially as this is such a busy time for crew change ahead of Christmas.”

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