Ningbo tightens port entry amid surging infections

Source: SCMP; Lloyd’s Loading List
Date: 14th December 2021

Rising coronavirus cases have forced the world’s third-largest container shipping harbour to tighten restrictions.

Container truck drivers will be subjected to inspections of digital health documents before entering China’s Ningbo port. The changes took effect from December 12.

Those showing red or yellow-coloured codes, indicating they live in areas with a recent occurrence of new coronavirus cases, will be banned from entry.

Drivers who have travelled to those areas in the past 14 days are requested to complete home quarantine and swab tests before being granted entry.

“We call for co-operation from drivers. Those who are not qualified should temporarily avoid heading to the port area,” the port said in a statement.

The move comes as the country’s Zhejiang province, a key manufacturing and export hub, reported 74 new cases on December 12, including 55 in Shaoxing, 11 in Ningbo and five in Hangzhou, the capital city.

Local health authorities said all cases were related to the Delta variant.

The port’s measures are part of the travel restrictions introduced by the provincial government to curb the domestic spread of the virus. And they are expected to reignite disruption to truck and terminal operations that could hit shippers keen to get their cargo shipped before the Chinese New Year holiday.

The situation also reminds people of the risks that China’s “zero-Covid” strategy could lead to weeks of closure of an entire terminal, creating issues for shipping schedules and the underlying supply chain.

In August, the Ningbo Meidong Container Terminal, which accounts for about one-fifth of the port’s total container throughput, was closed due to an infected dock worker. That followed the shutdown of the larger Yantian International Container Terminal in Shenzhen in June.

In addition to restrictive measures at the port, some local factories in the virus-affected areas have reportedly halted production under the government’s mandate.

Shaoxing-based, Shenzhen-listed JSG, a major semiconductor company, has joined 16 other listed Chinese manufacturers by announcing factory suspensions over the weekend in order to “collaborate with government efforts” to contain the disease.

Ningbo Homelink Eco-iTech, a supplier of biodegradable plastic products, told investors that the government in Ningbo’s Zhenhai District, known for its petrochemical industry and making up most of the city’s new cases, has ordered all local plants — except for those providing protective equipment and basic goods — to shut the production lines.

“The specific time for restoring the operations will be arranged based on the local government’s requirement for virus control,” said Homelink, adding that it expects a negative impact on its fourth-quarter performance from the suspension.

A survey of 120 companies this month by Oxford Economics found that half were affected by the supply chain crisis, including such things as material and component shortages and transport bottlenecks. Almost a fifth of respondents expects the disruption to persist beyond 2022.

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