The Philippines has become the latest nation to introduce a 'green lane' system to allow seafarers to leave and join their vessels while pandemic travel restrictions are in force.
As the world's largest supplier of labour to the maritime workforce, the country had been under pressure to bring in measures to resolve the crew change crisis, and the green lane scheme will apply both in the Philippines itself and to Filipino seafarers working abroad.
The scheme is explained in a Joint Circular of the Philippines government, and came into force on 2 July 2020. The document sets out a range of specific quarantine and testing requirements to enable crew members in the following categories to travel:
- Filipino seafarers joining a ship docked in the Philippines or overseas (outbound)
- Filipino seafarers leaving a ship (inbound)
- Filipino seafarers transiting in the Philippines (airport/terminal to airport/terminal)
- foreign seafarers joining a ship docked in a Philippine seaport from the airport (airport to ship)
- foreign seafarers leaving a ship docked in Philippine seaport to an airport (ship to airport)
- foreign seafarers transiting in the Philippines (airport/terminal to airport/terminal)
Philippines foreign affairs secretary Teodoro L Locsin Jr said: 'We are aware the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting restrictions have caused thousands of seafarers to be stranded at sea and they have to extend their service after many months at sea, unable to be replaced after many long hours of duty.
'With these guidelines we are answering the call of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the maritime industry to put in place a framework to ensure safe ship crew changes and travel during in the Covid-19 pandemic.'