COVID-19 Meeting the challenges at Stena Line – Restrictions in Finland; Contrasting situation in the Netherlands

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Information from Stena Line

In common with many market segments, the impact on the ferry sector of the coronavirus is profound and the potential impact on services cannot be understated. Information from Stena Line

  • There have been some necessary tonnage and route changes (not least the permanent closure of Stena Line’s Oslo-Frederikshavn route as well as far reaching manpower reductions) on Scandinavian and Baltic services, where the impacts of coronavirus restrictions have perhaps been felt a little earlier than in the west of our network, however at this time, all Irish Sea and North Sea routes continue to operate.
  • At present Stena is operating a full schedule on the Irish Sea, but with significantly reduced travel volumes. This will remain under review; especially if there is an impact on freight volumes also in the coming days/weeks. 
  • There is no modal change on the RoPax vessels – both driver accompanied and unaccompanied freight are still moving actively.
  • Stena recognises the importance of minimising commercial drivers’ risk of infection as far as possible and are working closely with the Department of Health guidelines. For the same reasons, it is also extremely important that crew members are similarly protected and all drivers are asked to respect social distancing rules when interacting with crew and each other on board.
  • One area where operators can help is to ensure that dangerous goods paperwork is submitted digitally in plenty of time to the CST reservations office, rather than having drivers presenting papers at the ports/check in…there is a safety concern of receiving papers that will have been handled multiple times in a short period.

“Overall, freight volumes have been holding up quite well, although we are seeing ups and down across different segments and particularly now in ‘non-essential’ retail following the UK and Irish Government announcements over the last couple of days,” said a Stena Line spokesman.

Update from Northern Europe: Restrictions in Finland; Contrasting situation in the Netherlands 

FINLAND

The Finnish Government has decided to block movement from the country’s most populous region Uusimaa (aprox. 30% lives in the area), that includes Helsinki and is the epicentre of the epidemic in Finland. Shutdown is controlled with roadblocks, it starts on 27.3. and lasts until 19.4. Transport of goods will go on as normal as possible and it is possible to travel out of Uusimaa with good personal or work related reasons.

From the 27.3. the driving time regulations will also be temporarily relaxed until 25.4. The minimum daily rest time will be 9 hours. The mandatory 45 min break after every 4.5 h drive can also be divided more freely in that time period.

There are ferry connections from Finland to Sweden, Estonia and Central Europe still going on to support the transport of goods, even though passenger traffic is not allowed. All ports are open for freight transport. Even in normal situation 80 % of import and 90 % of export are transported via waterways. During this Corona crisis even the pharmaceutical distribution relies more on ferries.

NETHERLANDS

Slight optimism in the Netherlands about the lessening growth of numbers of patients taken to Intensive Care. Should be a sign the ‘intelligent lockdown’ as the Government calls it, is working. The food supply chain still on overdrive but used to the new situation now. About 35 cities have now skipped or raised the curfew times for trucks, which makes the pressure on the food supply chain a bit less. Other segments in transport are now much less active, some coming to a standstill.

The last few days there have been serious traffic jams at the Belgian border, as the Belgians fail to understand how to create ‘Green Lanes’ for trucks and they are held up by border controls for passenger cars.  The Dutch Government will review the measures taken on 31 March to see if some restrictions can be loosened by 6 April. All major events are on hold until 1 June.