The British Ports Association (BPA) has urged the UK government to ensure ports remain open and that its measures to fight the COVID-19, or coronavirus, pandemic do not hinder the movement of trade.
In a statement, BPA chief executive Richard Ballantyne responded to the government’s Emergency Bill saying that keeping trade avenues open should be a priority.
Ballantyne said that while the industry is “very supportive” of the government’s efforts to fight the pandemic, he hopes powers to close indvidual ports will only be used “in extreme circumstances”.
COVID-19 has spread quickly in the UK, and as of 18 March 2020, it has almost 2,000 cases, 71 of which have died.
On 17 March the UK government announced a fresh wave of financial support for businesses affected by pandemic, including a $415 billion (£350 billion) loan scheme.
“These are unprecedented times and we are working closely with the UK Government and devolved administrations,” Ballantyne said.
“Our ports are currently open and facilitating imports of food, supplies and resources. It will be important that Government staff at the frontline look to support this effort as best they can.”
Tim Morris, CEO, UK Major Ports Group, commented in a separate statement, saying that the government must recognise the port sector’s “critical role in essential supply chains” and that it also work with banks to maintain cash flow throughout the supply chain.