PORT of Townsville has welcomed an easing of berthing and cargo unloading restrictions.

According to Maritime Safety Queensland general manager Angus Mitchell, from Friday morning this week, ships arriving at Townsville will be allowed to berth and unload cargo without having to wait 14-days from the time of leaving an overseas port.

Ships visiting Townsville previously had to apply for an exemption.

A Port of Townsville spokesperson said they were “pleased with this new direction which is consistent with the protocol put out by National Cabinet on 9 April 2020”.

“We are working closely with customers and stakeholders to ensure the essential freight services provided by the port can continue during this time to support industries and deliver vital goods for the communities we serve,” the spokesperson said.

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“The Port of Townsville is strictly following all directions from federal and state authorities, including MSQ, Border Force and Queensland Health to ensure the safety of all workers and the community.”

In a statement posted online, Shipping Australia said it understood the change had been made to help Queensland more closely align with national rules.

According to MSQ, Townsville has received around 65% of the requests for exemptions from the general-manager’s direction issued on 18 March for vessels to enter ports within the 14-day period.

Since 15 March, according to MSQ, 28 exemptions have been processed into Townsville, 40% of the total ships into port during this time (70 ships). Port of Townsville handles a mixture of containers, bulk, break-bulk and project cargo.

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