Inside Logistics

AAPA says coronavirus may cause 20 percent traffic drop in Q1 2020

Ports are on high alert for sailors with coronavirus symptoms

March 2, 2020

Chris Connor

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia – The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) expects supply chain disruption due to the COVID-19 outbreak cargo volumes at many U.S. ports during the first quarter of 2020 may be down by 20 percent or more compared to 2019.

“While the global economic impacts to the port and maritime industry from the coronavirus outbreak are significant and growing, the human impacts are our greatest concern,” said AAPA president and CEO Chris Connor in a statement.

“Since ports are a nation’s first line of defense against threats ranging from terrorism to pathogens, they take their role seriously about protecting the safety and well-being of their communities.”

In the U.S., ports are following instructions and protocols from appropriate federal agencies to quickly respond to the coronavirus threat.

Connor continued in his statement:

“For seaborne trade and travel, it’s both a blessing and a curse that there’s a two-week latency period for coronavirus symptoms. The lag time gives our ports, Coast Guard, Customs agents and health officials time to prepare for screening and, if needed, quarantine or rerouting of crew members or travelers thought to be infected.

AAPA keeps its U.S. member ports connected daily with these federal agencies and recommends its member ports also work closely with their specific Captain of the Port for local notices and updates.

By law, it’s up to incoming mariners and ship operators to report if anyone is thought to be sick on-board.  These protocols are always in place for our on-guard industry.

On February 3, 2020 the U.S. Coast Guard issued a Marine Safety Information Bulletin stating that vessels carrying passengers who have been in mainland China within the previous 14 days will be denied entry. Other vessels with crew members who have been to mainland China within the previous 14 days, with no sick crew members, will be permitted to enter and conduct normal operations, but crew members will be required to remain onboard with very limited exceptions. If a crew member who has been to mainland China within the previous 14 days is brought onboard a vessel in transit to the United States, the master must immediately notify the Coast Guard.

For commercial travelers, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is limiting entries from the affected regions to U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents, and their immediate family members.  CBP has also set up additional screening at ports of entry.