Despite the far-reaching social impact of the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19), the port of Rotterdam will remain operational. Cargo handling and production will continue unabated. The Harbour Master Division is monitoring safety and public order on the water 24/7. The Port of Rotterdam Authority is carefully complying with the recommendations of national authorities in the field of health and safety, and we have taken steps to safeguard the continuity of business operations. Health is the primary consideration here. We are advising and assisting our clients, and we will keep them and other stakeholders informed about relevant developments. It has become clear in recent days that the situation relating to the spread of coronavirus is changing very rapidly. New and unexpected developments, including those requiring additional measures, are likely in the days and weeks to come.
Answers to frequently asked questions
Entrepreneurs in the port are wondering whether their activities are also part of a vital process or whether they employ people who work in a crucial occupation – which in turn leads to the question whether these employees are entitled to child care during the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.
In response to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, the Dutch government has identified a number of crucial occupations and vital processes in the Netherlands that need to be maintained. Which occupations and processes are deemed vital by the national authorities, can be read here.
The handling of shipping has been qualified as a vital process by the government. The Harbour Master’s Division of the Port of Rotterdam Authority has been identified as a vital provider of shipping handling services.
The shipping handling process in a broad sense needs to be maintained
The government has not included specific aspects of the handling of shipping in its classification as a vital process. Our main priority is ensuring that the shipping handling process is maintained in its totality. That is why the vital shipping handling process can be understood to encompass more than solely the activities of the Harbour Master’s Division. In the view of the Harbour Master’s Division, the vital process of shipping handling comprises:
(A) Shipping handling and directly-related port processes; and
(B) The associated hinterland transport processes and warehousing.
After all, if the chain process is not executed in its entirety, this will lead to congestion in the port and its entrance area and result in market shortages. This in turn will disrupt the safe and swift handling of shipping traffic and destabilise society as a whole.
That is why the Harbour Master believes it is crucial to ensure that all chain processes subsidiary to shipping handling are maintained. Occupational groups that are active within these chain processes and all individuals who fulfil an indispensable role within these chain processes are entitled to child care facilities during the COVID-19 outbreak.
In view of the aforementioned, the Harbour Master’s Division has determined that the process of shipping handling at any rate includes – but is not limited to – the following chain processes:
• Handling of shipping by the Harbour Master’s Division;
• Handling of shipping and nautical services (patrol and emergency response vessels, linesmen, towing services, pilots, lashers);
• Port and inland terminals for the unloading, loading, storage and handling of cargo;
• Distribution/warehousing and hinterland connections, including inland shipping, rail and road transport and the traffic control services required in this context;
• Companies and organisations that support the necessary infrastructure and patrol and emergency response vessels with regard to availability, incident management, safety measures and equipment, environmental protection and maintenance;
• Companies and organisations that bear responsibility for the availability, maintenance and fault clearing of systems and platforms required for shipping handling, including the prediction of water levels and current velocities, VTS, VHF and hydro-meteorological information, telephone systems and the Port Community System.
The Port of Rotterdam Authority is of the opinion that the industrial processes in the port complex are also vital since, without the important process of industrial production in the port of Rotterdam, many essential goods would no longer be available. Whether or not a process should be classified as vital and the consequences of this qualification are dependent on developments in society. At present, we are unable to make any statements about the situation in the event of a further spread of the COVID-19 virus – which could potentially necessitate a complete lockdown, for example. For this reason, please keep an eye on the website of the Port of Rotterdam Authority for updates or subscribe to our newsletter. This ensures that you will be automatically notified of any new developments.
The measures we have taken on the basis of guidelines or advice from the relevant authorities include:
- Employees of the Port of Rotterdam Authority will be working from home as much as possible between 13 March and 6 April (inclusive). Of course, our employees can be reached by telephone and by email. The operational services will continue as always. The Harbour Coordination Centre is accessible 24/7, and it will remain so.
- All events, receptions and non-essential training courses have been postponed or cancelled.
- All seagoing vessels are required to submit a Maritime Declaration of Health (MDoH) before arriving at, or being piloted in, the port of Rotterdam. That procedure is already in place for cruise vessels. It does not apply to inland shipping.
- The FutureLand Visitor Centre on the Maasvlakte will be closed for the time being.
The WHO has now classified the spread of the COVID-19 virus as a pandemic. The pandemic is disrupting the production and logistics chains at the global level. Worldwide, companies, national governments and international authorities are taking steps to mitigate the impact of the epidemic on public health and the economy as much as possible. The port of Rotterdam is an international hub for the flow of goods. The consequences of the virus outbreak are therefore also clear to see here. The throughput volumes for all cargo flows in the first months of 2020 have been significantly lower than originally expected. The Port of Rotterdam Authority therefore believes that there is a realistic probability that throughput volume for the whole of 2020 will be significantly lower than in the past two years.
‘The Harbour Master’s division monitors daily how many vessels enter and leave the port of Rotterdam. In addition, we remain in close contact with pilots, linesmen and other nautical service providers. Companies in the port area keep us up to date on a daily basis regarding the continuity of their processes. At present, we have no irregularities to report in the port area. The port of Rotterdam is fully operational.’
We are currently only available by email for questions about incoming and outgoing payments and invoices. Unfortunately, the telephone number of SPC is not available. We will do our utmost to be of service to you as soon as possible after receipt of your question by email.
Use the contact form at the bottom of this page to ask your question.
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