Safety alert—Novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

Information for coastal pilots and pilotage provider.

Read this information if you are a coastal pilot and pilotage provider licensed under Marine Order 54.

What is Australia doing?

Australia has put in place extra border measures, health screening and isolation recommendations for people travelling to Australia from overseas.

The Department of Agriculture Water and Environment is in contact with international vessels to ensure they understand the requirements and comply with pre-arrival reporting. Companies and masters are reminded of the legal obligation to report accurately.

Additional immigration, reporting requirements and isolation recommendations now apply to travellers who have been in, or transited through, a country other than Australia, in the past 14 days.

On 15 March 2020, the Australian Government announced a temporary ban on cruise ships that have left a foreign port. More information on the ban and possible exemptions is available from Australian Border Force.”

 “From 16 March 2020, travellers arriving in Australia are required to undertake a precautionary self-isolation period of up to 14 days after entry into Australia.”

By following the Department of Health guidelines, marine pilots are exempt from Australia’s health screening and self-isolation recommendations on arrival into Australian ports. 

Marine pilots following the Department of Health advice are not required to complete an Isolation Declaration Card on arrival.

If you have been in contact with ill persons while on board the vessel, make yourself known to the biosecurity officer on arrival.

If you do not follow the advice in this fact sheet, you will be required to isolate yourself for 14 days from the time of disembarkation from the vessel

Guidance for pilotage providers

Pilotage providers are encouraged to take a precautionary approach and comply with the Department of Health information and directives.

AMSA suggests that when a pilotage provider accepts a booking for coastal pilotage services from a vessel, they use the screening questions below. These questions should be asked as soon as possible, and again within 24 hours of the commencement of the pilotage:

  1. Please advise if it has been less than 14 days since anyone on board left a foreign port?
  2. Has any person on the vessel become ill or shown signs of illness in the past 14 days?

Where the answer to both questions is 'no'

The pilotage should proceed with the pilot following normal procedures.

Where the answer to question 1 is ‘yes’

Person to person spread of the coronavirus is reported as occurring, but it is not yet understood how easily this happens. The following measures will help reduce the risk:

  • The pilotage provider should advise vessels that their pilots will take a precautionary approach and request that the master assist in minimising contact with crew.
    • Have crew who will be in proximity of the pilot use PPE.
    • Ask that all crew practice social distancing by staying 1.5 metres or more away from the pilot.
  • Any pilot who has a compromised immune system or has diagnosed heart or lung conditions should not be allocated to the pilotage.
  • Pre-boarding advice should be provided to the vessel master/company including details below. They should also be directed to relevant documents on the Department of Health website.
  • Where possible, contact with persons on board the vessel should be limited to essential crew.
  • There should be no physical contact, for example shaking hands.
  • Where possible, pilots should stay 1.5 metres or more away from crew.
  • Pilots should wear appropriate PPE, (surgical masks) while on board as a precautionary measure. Masks should be replaced if they become damp or soiled. Additional protection may be offered by wearing eye protection, which would include sunglasses.
  • Even if wearing PPE, Pilots should avoid touching their mouth, eyes, and nose with unwashed or gloved hands.
  • Hand hygiene is important and pilots should carry alcohol-based hand rub. Pilots should wash their hands frequently while on board the vessel with soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand rub. Pilots should especially practice good hand hygiene while using toilet facilities.
  • Where required to sleep on the vessel, pilots should be accommodated in a single cabin and ensure bedding is clean or request fresh bedding.
  • When eating meals on-board, standard advice should be observed including ensuring that food is well cooked. Pilots should not consume raw meat or animal products.
  • Pilots should take their meals in their cabin, so that their mask can be safely removed, and proper hand hygiene should be observed.
  • If a pilot becomes aware of any ill person on board, they should ask the vessel master to report the illness in their pre-arrival report as they are required to under law.
  • If there are concerns about pre-arrival reporting contact Queensland ReefVTS or their local port authority and public health authority.
  • Advise the Master that the ill crew member should isolate on the vessel in a single cabin until further direction is given by a biosecurity officer or human biosecurity officer.

Where the answer to both questions is yes

In instances where it is confirmed that a person on the vessel has become ill or has showed signs of illness within the past 14 days, pilotage providers should ask the vessel’s master to report the illness in their pre-arrival report as he/she is required to under law.

If there are any concerns about pre-arrival reporting contact Queensland ReefVTS or alternatively their local public health authority. 

Advise the Master that the ill crew member should isolate on the vessel in a single cabin. A plan of action should be discussed with a biosecurity officer or human biosecurity officer. 

Additional information

The following links provide further information:

The Department of Health operates an information line should you be seeking information on novel coronavirus. It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week 1800 020 080.

Australian Border Force, Border Operation Centre +61 1300 368 126.

Health related biosecurity questions while on board, 1300 004 605 (operating hours 6am-6pm Australian Central Standard Time, for urgent after hours enquiries call +61 417 666 648).

Please forward any questions about this safety alert message to

Last updated: 14 November 2023