On Thursday 26 February 2020, the UAE’s Federal Transport Authority (the “FTA”) issued Circular No. 2 of 2020 concerning measures against the coronavirus threat. Pertinently, the circular states that:
(i) ferry services between the UAE and Iran have been suspended until further notice from the FTA; and
(ii) Ship Masters are advised to, at least 72 hours before calling UAE ports, send to the port authorities, a Maritime Declaration of Health with his/her undertaking that "no crew member is suffering from any symptoms suggestive of corona virus illness."
A day earlier on 25 February 2020, Kuwait’s Ministry of Communications published Circular No. 3 of 2020 entitled “NOVEL CORONAVIRUS ALERT”. This circular instructs that all Kuwaiti sea ports are:
(i) prohibited from receiving foreign-flagged vessels arriving from China, Hong Kong, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand (the “Highlighted States”); and
(ii) not to allow any person regardless of nationality to enter Kuwait, if s/he was in any of the Highlighted States in the two weeks immediately before his/her arrival in Kuwait.
Kuwait had also earlier in the same week made similar prohibitions on arrivals of ships and persons from Iran. Government and port authorities in the Middle East have recently been issuing directives to combat the spread of the coronavirus via official circulars and the general media, and we expect this trend to continue. We therefore recommend members of the maritime community to stay in touch with various information platforms and their agents.