Australia’s COVID situation is in a constant state of change. Owing to the size of the continent, the distance between cities and the fragmented (and often contradictory) nature of Federal / State government, an outbreak of COVID can be raging in one part of the country and completely absent everywhere else.
From this prospective, it can be quite difficult to accurately report the ‘current’ restrictions and/or directives that must be adhered to for all owners, businesses and crew!
Therefore, whilst it appears we are coming out of the pandemic, the changes appear fewer, and restrictions appear lighter.
There are specific rules in place for Domestic Commercial Vessels (DCV) based on your operations. Please note that states and territories may have different requirements. We recommend checking with your state or territory for their specific requirements.
Charter operators and tourism experiences
This includes Hire & Drive/ bare boat operators.
There are now NO vaccination or check in requirements and no COVID-19 capacity or density limits apply.
If at sea and a crew member shows any symptoms of COVID-19 immediately take a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) and follow the guidelines below.
- If a NEGATIVE test result no action necessary but continue to monitor symptoms and take a second RAT test 2 or 3 days after the first test.
- If a POSITIVE test result then the vessel becomes a quarantine zone for 7 full days from the date of the test. This means that any person who tests positive OR displays COVID-19 symptoms (see Close Contacts below) is not permitted to leave the vessel during that period other than for situations like:
- Going to hospital for urgent medical care
- In an emergency such as fire, flooding, etc.
If a crew member is leaving the vessel for these very limited reasons they must wear a mask.
- Advise all other persons onboard that you have tested positive, and the vessel is quarantine zone for the next 7 days.
- Advise family and friends that you have COVID-19
- Continually monitor your health and if unsure call the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080
- Seek medical advice if you:
- are not improving after 2 or 3 days, or are getting sicker
- have a chronic health condition
- are pregnant
- Call 000 immediately if you are or becoming seriously ill
- The quarantine period ends after the 7 full days unlessyou have a fever, sore throat, runny nose or a cough that is getting worse on day 7
- If you do have a fever, sore throat, runny nose or a cough that is getting worse the vessel will need to remain a quarantine zone until the symptoms clear
- You do not need another RAT to end the quarantine period. This is because most people who get COVID-19 will continue to test positive for some time after they have recovered even though they no longer have COVID-19 and are no longer infectious
- Another crew member tests POSITIVE for COVID-19 then you need to start a new 7 full days quarantine period and follow 1 – 10 above.
- The vessel remains a quarantine zone for 7 full daysfrom the date the crew member had the test.
Most states and territories require you to report a positive RAT result, check your governments requirements for reporting positive RAT results.
NOTE: This guide is based on government information today and as states and territories continually change requirements we recommend you check your state or territory requirements regularly.
All persons onboard should be considered close contacts if any person onboard has tested positive to COVID-19 from the date of a positive result. Close contacts with COVID-19 symptoms should take a RAT immediately and must stay onboard until the symptoms resolve.
Anyone onboard who DOES NOT have symptoms of COVID-19 should monitor symptoms for 7 days from the last time anyone onboard tested positive for COVID-19. If symptom free then you do not have to quarantine and can leave the vessel.
While anyone is a close contact they must:
- Wear a mask at all times when outside
- Not visit vulnerable settings unless in exceptional or compassionate circumstances
- Test for COVID-19 if symptoms develop.
Most people will be able to manage their symptoms onboard. It is import to:
- Get lots of rest
- Drink plenty of fluids (water is best) to avoid dehydration
- Take pain medication like paracetamol or ibuprofen if uncomfortable
- Monitor symptoms daily to track if they are getting worse. You can use Queensland’s My COVID-19 symptoms diary by clicking on the link below.
First and foremost, ensure you have enough RAT kits onboard based on the number of crew carried and the length of your normal voyages.
Secondly ensure you have a procedure onboard for how to deal with crew members who test positive for COVID-19 and all crew know and understand their responsibilities in relation to dealing with COVID-19.
If you’re unsure about what’s required or how to incorporate a COVID-19 procedure into your SMS then give us a call and we’ll help you develop a procedure and incorporate it into your SMS.