CAPE TOWN – Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula on Wednesday issued a ban on leisure vessels entering South Africa’s eight seaports and prohibited cargo vessels from changing crews once they dock as part of measures to contain the spread of Covid-19.
The ban is included in new regulations the minister gazetted on Wednesday, which take immediate effect.
"The regulations give effect to the prohibition of embarkation and disembarkation of passengers at all the eight seaports.
"In terms of these regulations, no passenger vessels will be allowed in our ports. In essence, there is a total ban on cruise ships. This affects all leisure travelers," Mbalula said.
"With effect from today, no cruise ships will be permitted to call into South African ports, nor will any be allowed to leave our shores."
"The regulations also prohibit crew changes for all types of vessels, including merchant ships," Mbalula added.
He said to prevent the spread of Covid-19 when visiting crews get into contact with dock hands, port authorities have been requested to provide protective gear to the local dock workers.
Ninety-five percent of South Africa’s trade cargo comes in via sea.
Mbalula said it was vital to keep to supplies coming in and the economy running. All of our eight seaport operations and cargo handling work will continue. The current regulations and measures do not prohibit trade.
"Cargo ships will still be allowed to call into our ports to offload and to load cargo. This is to minimise the adverse effects of the virus on our economy and our global trade position," he said.
To strengthen controls at ports, temperature screening measures will be put in place to screen anyone coming into the country.
Gatherings of more than 100 staff have been prohibited and the movement of workers is to be restricted to ensure a safe distance between people.