BRi USA News - COVID-19 Freight Update: US Ports, Warehouses Stay Open


Dear all Valued Customers


As the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) deepens in the United States, major ports, warehouses, and freight transportation providers are remaining open as they are deemed essential services by the government.


Essential staff supporting the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, including longshore workers and drayage drivers, for example, are exempt from California Governor Gavin Newsom’s Thursday “shelter-in-place” order.


The Southern California ports issued statements on Friday emphasizing that because they handle a wide range of critical cargoes from medical supplies to basic consumer staples, both the state and county of Los Angeles regulators have exempted port and supply chain activities from stay-at-home mandates.


The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), which represents shipping lines and terminal operators, have worked out their own safety protocol, which includes social distancing and a greater reliance on electronic dispatching when possible, said James McKenna, PMA president.


Similar to California, the Port of Charleston in South Carolina is exempt from a stay-at-home order issued Thursday by the mayor of Mount Pleasant, where the Wando Welch Terminal is located. All terminal staff, truck drivers, and workers at nearby off-dock rail ramps are considered essential employees, as are warehouse workers handling cargo.


BRi USA is exempt from local or national government "shelter in place" restrictions as a member of the Transportation and Logistics Industry "critical infrastructure segment." As such, our employees will continue to perform their normal job functions.


Keep in mind that we are also transitioning employees to virtual work at home environments while retaining limited office staff.


Warehouses will also remain open to service our customers' distribution needs.


Below is a general overview of the operations BRi has been able to gather for most major U.S. ports.


This list will be updated as information is made available.


Port of Los Angeles & Long Beach – All ports are open and operating normally at this time as they are exempt from the "shelter in place" declaration. Note that many terminals are closed for second shifts and operations on Saturday, March 28. A few terminals do not have empties available at this time. All containers must also be picked up by shippers and empties/chassis returned in order to avoid terminals reaching their yard capacities.


Port of New Orleans (NOLA) – Port of New Orleans (Port NOLA) cargo operations and New Orleans Public Belt Railroad (NOPB) operations continue to function as normal. Port NOLA’s tenant terminal operators continue to operate normal hours and procedures at the Port’s breakbulk and container terminals. Ocean carriers are following the U.S. Coast Guard’s strict protocol, which includes additional reporting and screening requirements for vessels prior to arrival. 


North Carolina Ports (Wilmington & Charleston) – The South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) warned Friday that volume through the Port of Charleston will fall by double digits in March and April due the impact from the virus, but operating hours will remain unchanged and truckers should not face delays in returning empty container and chassis.


Port of Houston - All Port Houston terminals, including Bayport, Barbours Cut, and multi-purpose facilities terminals, are operating as usual, Monday through Friday. Regular services continue calling facilities. To further serve customers, on Monday, March 23 Bayport and Barbours Cut terminals will have extended gate hours, 0700 – 2100, with ingate closing at 2000.


Port Miami - Port Miami closed Friday, March 20, due to low import volume. The terminal has reopened and is fully operational today.


Port of New York & New Jersey – The Port of New York and New Jersey remains open and operational. Several terminals are only allowing entrance to truckers with existing appointments. 


The below port status remain unchanged:


Port of Seattle/Tacoma - Seattle and Tacoma have a rule change that all vessels coming from "at risk countries" must wait 14 days prior to being piloted to the port. There is limited vessels affected by this ruling at this time.


Port of Virginia (Norfolk) – Volumes coming out of China are beginning to, albeit slowly, return to normal. With recent infrastructure improvements, the port has added capacity for containers but expects disruptions are still inevitable. The port also continues to operate a weekly barge service to Baltimore and Philadelphia, in the efforts to further alleviate potential congestion.  


Georgia Ports (Savannah) – The Georgia Ports Authority anticipates a double-digit decline in Savannah’s March volumes due to 30 blank sailings, and while Saturday hours will be temporarily cut, no weekday shifts will be eliminated or hours curtailed. With recent improvements, the throughput of the port has increased significantly. As a result, the Port of Savannah hopes this will minimize disruptions.


USTR Requesting Public Comments on Possible Removal of Duties for Medical Care Products Needed to Respond to the COVID-19 Outbreak


Docket for public comment will remain open until June 25, 2020 and may be extended as appropriate.


The United States Trade Representative (USTR) is requesting public comments on possible further modifications to remove duties from additional medical-care products. USTR invites comments from interested persons with respect to whether a particular product covered by the action in this investigation is needed to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. The docket for comments will remain open at least until June 25, 2020, and may be extended as appropriate. To facilitate timely consideration of possible modifications, interested persons should submit comments as promptly as possible. Interested persons may also submit responses to comments. To be assured of consideration, any responses to comments should be submitted within three business days after a comment is posted in the docket. USTR will review comments on a rolling basis.


Each comment specifically must identify the particular product of concern and explain precisely how the product relates to the response to the COVID-19 outbreak. For example, the comment may address whether a product is directly used to treat COVID-19 or to limit the outbreak, and/or whether the product is used in the production of needed medical-care products.


India Shuts Down Flights, Big Cities on Lockdown in Response to COVID-19


India on Monday announced a halt to domestic flights and said the majority of the country was under complete lockdown to stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The government ordered commercial airlines to shut down domestic operations from midnight on Tuesday on top of a ban on international flights to try and contain the virus.


Residents living in 75 districts across the country, including in major cities such as the capital New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Kolkata have been placed under travel, work and movement restrictions until March 31.


Ports and terminals remain open as they are considered an essential service, but with limited staff. Note that 20s, 40s and 40HC container availability is tight due to lack of import volumes. Cargo flights will continue to be operational, but with limited flights.


The entire BRi USA team is at your disposal & feel free to contact us should you have any enquiries.


As a valued customer, we hope that you will continue to trust us to source the best options for your supply chain needs now and into the future.


Please feel free to contact your Customer Solutions Representative, should you have any questions or queries.


Keeping you updated,

BRi Customer Solutions Team


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