Shipping season starts despite chaos with COVID-19

Updated: March 26, 2020 04:46 PM

At midnight on Wednesday, the Soo Locks opened for the start of the shipping season. A sign of hope and normalcy, during this difficult time.


"We feel good. Ships are moving in both directions," shared Jayson Hron, Director of Communication and Marketing for the Duluth Seaway Port Authority.

He said the CDC and U.S. Coast Guard remain the lead agencies handling protocols with COVID-19. "They continue to monitor and create policies and procedures for this situation," Hron added. "There are new ones for potentially limiting disembarkations for crews and captains on the ships, and for people who would go onto them. Shore leave is much shorter now, because of efficiency in loading and unloading."

Here are some of the strict steps to keep crews and communities safe as the flow of maritime traffic begins amidst the COVID-19 pandemic:

•    Approval to embark or disembark pilots and crew could be limited at the discretion of the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Centers for Disease Control.
•    All pilots and crew must be monitored for COVID-19 symptoms and 96-hour advance notice of any suspected cases must be provided to the lead agencies and control centers prior to inspectors boarding the vessel.
•    Ships underway on Lake Superior are required to immediately contact the U.S. Coast Guard or the CDC's Minneapolis Quarantine Station regarding any suspected COVID-19 cases or symptoms.

Any ships from other countries won't be arriving until about mid-April at the earliest, since the St .Lawrence Seaway is not fully opening until April 1st.

Those vessels also have to follow CDC and Coast Guard regulations, according to the port.

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