Maritime Declaration of Health, the obligation comes into force: the first precedent in Portisco
Let’s admit it: Coronavirus has caught us unawares. Nobody was prepared for such a “democratic” (in the sense that it involves everyone) phenomenon and, when something happens for the first time, a precedent is inevitably created.
In certain situations, a precedent makes jurisprudence, as in the case of Sergio Contu, owner of a Sardinian company specialized in yacht charter and protagonist of an episode that clearly demonstrates how the Covid-19 emergency has caught everyone unprepared, affecting any sector, including the yachting one.
Mr. Contu, after a trip to France where he had withdrawn a yacht, was returning to Marina di Portisco (Sassari), where his company is based, when, shortly before the arrival, he was informed that he could not enter the port until the completion of a Maritime Declaration of Health.
The last decree issued by the Italian Prime Minister, in fact, establishes that all ships and recreational boats arriving in a national port, unless they are returning from a daily outing, must request a Maritime Declaration of Health.
Masters of all vessels are required to display the Q flag (yellow flag) and wait to receive the okay to dock from the maritime authority that, in the case of Mr. Contu, was the Port Authority of Porto Torres.
The Q flag must not be confused with the “quarantine or L flag” (a checkered yellow and black flag) that must flown when the crew is under quarantine.
What the Maritime Declaration of Health is
For the uninitiated, the Maritime Declaration of Health is a document issued by the competent authority of the port of arrival which states that the crew is in perfect health condition and therefore has the permission to moor and disembark.
The issue of the Maritime Declaration of Health (MHD) to ships and boats arriving at national ports authorizes the ship or the boat to start all passenger and commercial disembarkation and embarkation operations.
The Maritime Declaration of Health must be requested by all ships or boats arriving in a national port from non-EU countries, from countries subject to health ordinance and from any other country for justified health reasons.
The request shall be made directly to the Territorial Unit of the Office of Maritime, Air and Border Health through all rapid communication means available: radio, fax, telegram, phonogram, telex or uncertified e-mail.
All’s well that ends well (or almost)
Incredulous and stunned, Mr. Contu and his partner were asked to fill out a form by hand (or by glove, we should say) by two mooring men in health suit who, on board a tender, had joined the yacht docked out of the marina.
The operators therefore subjected them to body temperature check to verify the presence or absence of a possible infection with Coronavirus. Then, once arrived in the port, Mr-Contu and his partner were put into quarantine for two weeks.
In short, Mr. Contu risked staying moored out of the marina. Now, he must remain in isolation at home, after having unwittingly created a jurisprudential precedent.