Small craft transits during COVID-19 pandemic

14 Apr 2020 / Panama Canal, Panama

Due to the current outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Republic of Panama and around the world, through the Ministry of Health (MINSA), the Panamanian government has imposed a total quarantine in the Republic of Panama.

Consequently, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) deems it necessary to implement strict measures to reduce the exposure to COVID-19 and protect the health of its employees, the Panamanian people, as well as vessels’ personnel, in order to prevent further spread of the virus. Therefore, the following procedures will be implemented for all small craft below 20 m (65 feet) in length overall (LOA) effective April 09, 2020:

  1. Upon arrival at Balboa Anchorage or Cristobal Breakwater, the small craft shall contact the corresponding signal station announcing its arrival and requesting anchoring instructions, if applicable.

  2. All crew and passengers arriving in Canal waters on board pleasure yachts are required to remain aboard under observation and surveillance by Panamanian authorities for a period of not less than 14 calendar days, regardless of port of origin or amount of days at sea.

  3. Upon completion of this 14 day period, they will be evaluated by the Ministry of Health (MINSA) to determine if there is any risk of contagion. Likewise, the master/skipper shall report to Canal and Panamanian health authorities if any passenger or crewmember on board shows virus-related symptoms or any other sickness.

  4. In order for personnel on board to properly maintain quarantine, all transit arrangements shall be made by a representative ashore, such as a local agent or the corresponding marina where the small craft is anchored or moored.

  5. The small craft representative shall call the ACP Admeasurement Unit (tel. 272-4577) in order to provide all the required information.

  6. In addition, the small craft representative shall send to [email protected] the following information:
    - Yacht SIN number, name, flag, length (m), beam (m), arrival date confirmation (provided by the representative or the marina)
    - Arrival crew list
    - Yacht’s register
    - Profile picture of the yacht
    - Signed Release form
    - Completed Handline Lockage Request form
    - Copy of all crew passports

  7. The agent or representative shall make arrangements for placement of the transit guarantee, or payment in cash, which shall include tolls and other maritime services, as well as the buffer.

  8. Once the guarantee has been confirmed, the representative or marina shall call the ACP vessel scheduler, at 272-4202 to coordinate their transit date.

  9. In addition to the master/skipper, the small craft shall have at least four line handlers available, as required by ACP regulations. These linehandlers must have already been on board the small craft during the quarantine period mentioned in (2) above.

  10. All other transit requirements remain the same and are available at:

  11. On the day of transit, only the ACP transit advisor will board the small craft and disembark once his assignment has been completed. Only ACP personnel will be permitted to board or disembark the small craft.

The ACP is continuously monitoring the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic and will announce any changes to these measures in a timely manner.

(For information about operations in the Panama Canal, contact GAC Panama at [email protected])

Source: Panama Canal Authority Advisory To Shipping No. A-14-2020

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