Indian Ocean Lockdown

Where’s open and where’s not? A quick guide for Indian Ocean Passagemakers. This report was updated for the last time on 10 August, 2020. Please review country biosecurity sections for more recent updates.

Published 4 years ago

  • 10 August, 2020: Last updated. This report will not be updated further. Please review individual country biosecurity sections for the latest information.

After many months of closures the situation started to improve for transiting yachts in June with the Seychelles opening followed by Reunion. Maldives and Mayotte opened in early July, but all with certain restrictions (see below). The situation in South Africa is improving slowly and sea borders partially opened to yachts in July. It is hoped borders will fully open in September/October 2020.

This is great news for Indian Ocean passage makers who have been stuck in limbo for several months and can now find safe haven for the SE Monsoon.

This report outlines the current status of each country throughout the Indian Ocean for yachts in transit. This report is continually updated as the situation changes.

East to west across the Indian Ocean from Maldives:

Status: Open
Maldives borders opened to yachts on 15 July. New reduced clearance fees and procedures were introduced 24 May. See Maldives Clearance for more details. Initially there were no restrictions – just an online health declaration form to complet prior to arrival. However, in September new stricter measures were introduced including a negative Covid test result and no access to populated atolls for tourists. Full details at Maldives Biosecurity.

Status: No new permits being issued
If you were lucky enough to get your permit for BIOT organised before Covid-19 then you can still stop off and visit this Indian Ocean archipelago. BIOT Administration are monitoring the situation in the region and also relevant changes in the UK and US approach, but restrictions have not eased and no new permits have been issued since mid-March.

Status: Open – 21 days at sea prior to arrival
At the start of June reports began to come in from yachts that had gained permission to enter Seychelles following a 14 day quarantine (preferably at sea). From 23 June this quarantine period was increased to 21 days at sea required prior to coming to the Seychelles with no human contact prior to arrival. Prior permission to visit is required from the health and port authorities. More details here.

Status: Closed
No boats have been allowed into the country since early March when Kenya went into lockdown. No visitor visas are being issued and domestic cruising is only permitted within the county lines. All international flights have been suspended.

Status: Open with possible quarantine
Tanzania has ben open for the duration, with Dar es Salaam under a 14 day quarantine but Tanga not. Neither ports are in lockdown and the country itself is in a state of flux with little regard being paid to the dangers of Covid-19 and only nominal healthcare. Tanzania has no real emergency health care system, so you are on your own as far as medical care goes. Arthur Heywood, Commodore of Tanga Yacht Club, reports that eight foreign yachts have been at the yacht club during the crisis. In Dar es Salaam there is a 14 day quarantine when you arrive. There have been a handful of foreign boats anchored at the slipway anchorage. Water and fuel are available and supermarkets are open. More details here.

Status: Closed
The entry of aircraft and ships in Mauritius is prohibited until 31 August 2020, except for those aircrafts and ships as may be approved by the Prime Minister.

Status: Open
Reunion opened to international yachts in the second week of July. Yachts must clear in at Le Port de la Pointe des Galets and make advance contact with the port authority by e-mail: [email protected]. Full details in Biosecurity.

Status: Closed
Authorities in Nosy Be have confirmed that the borders are still closed with no opening dates in sight and that until further notice all new arrivals will be turned away. Foreign yachts cleared into the country before lockdown are being allowed to sail to some of the outer islands. Cruising permits and visas are renewable for the duration. The authorities, however, are not keen on newcomers and the navy are patrolling, so sneaking in is not recommended. The number of cases keeps rising and the first deaths from Covid-19 have been reported.

Status: Closed except to French citizens
The healthcare system is suffering in Mayotte as not only has there been a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases (it’s the worst hit overseas territory of France), but there has also been a dengue fever outbreak. Strict lockdown measures are in place to restrict movement, but it is proving difficult to enforce. There has been riots and looting of food stores. Lockdown/border closures have been extended until further notice. Entry is only allowed for emergency family or work reasons (French citizens), given that the virus is still actively circulating. A strict 14-day quarantine is being enforced.

Status: Closed with security issues
Mozambique has been closed to visiting yachts since mid-March. It is uncertain how the authorities would react to yachts anchoring behind Bazaruto to rest while on passage at this time. North of Nacala up to the Tanzanian border should be avoided due to security issues as there have been some serious internal uprisings in the country. On July 9th the Mozambican Government announced a continuation of the Level-3 State of Emergency until July 29th.

Status: Open
South African ports of entry are able to accept yachts on inbound passage as of 19 July. Advance notice must be given to prepare authorities accordingly. This is good news for Indian Ocean passage makers. There is a Covid test on arrival and quarantine until test results have been received. Full details at Biosecurity.

Status: 1 ports open to international yachts
Indonesia is in lockdown and ports are officially closed. Nongsa Point Marina, however, appears to be able to receive yachts from other countries. See Biosecurity for details. Foreign yachts in Indonesia before the lockdown are unable to leave. Throughout Indonesia cruising yachts have received a mixed reception and in some cases locals have insisted that they move on. In Sabang yachts have been moved on by irate locals and officials from many anchorages, no matter how remote and warning shots have been fired on at least one occasion. However, some yachts transiting eastern Indonesia via Sorong (western most major town on the Papuan islands) have been able to arrange an emergency stop in Sorong with the help of Wick Alliston. For yachts approaching eastern Indonesian waters it is recommended that the ships log is kept up to date with daily, signed entries of the recorded body temperature of all crew members. If the vessel then has to make a stop in the main ports of Sorong or Waisai this record will be an important document for the quarantine and health check.

Status: Re-fuel only with advance permissions
Singapore’s circuit breaker ended on 1 June at which time it began 3 phases of reopening, the first lasting 4 weeks, the second a few months and so on. A number of marinas re-opened from 1 June but borders remain closed to recreational vessels visiting Singapore for pleasure purposes. Yachts can come to Singapore in transit if they have an essential need (e.g. repair/loading and discharge of cargo/ taking supplies/change of ownership and crew change). An agent must be used and approval is needed from immigration, port authority and the health authorities. Further details at Singapore biosecurity.

Status: Closed but genuine emergency entry possible
Foreign yachts are still prohibited from entering Malaysia and Borneo and are not permitted to anchor while on passage through Malaysian waters. In the event of an emergency when on transit through Malaysian waters contact must be made with the Malaysia Coast Guard (MMEA) or Marine Police (RMP Marine) before any approaches to shore are made. The authorities are concerned, however, that cruisers may invent emergencies to enter a country of their choice. In Langkawi the emergency will be inspected by a suitably qualified officer from the Department of the Marine. If the emergency is not genuine, or not deemed to be an emergency, you will be denied entry. If it is genuine, you may remain at anchor but nobody can go ashore. All supplies will be brought to you by an appointed agent, at your expense.

Malaysia’s Movement Control Order (MCO) has gone into “recovery phase” (i.e. exit strategy) until 31 August. Borders will not be open until at least then.

Status: Open with 14-day quarantine
Foreign yachts can come to Brunei following normal clearance procedures, however, health screening and a swab test is required on arrival (at your expense), followed by 14 days of quarantine. 

Status: Closed
Thailand remains under a state of emergency, which will likely be extended until the end of July 2020. There is still no news of when yachts will be able to come to Thailand and indeed leave the country. Full details in Biosecurity.

Status: Closed but supply stops permitted
Sri Lanka has decided to delay reopening the country to foreigners until at least the middle of August at the earliest. The government has, however, given permission for yachts in transit to anchor in Galle and take on supplies. Crew are not permitted to land so supplies must be obtained via the Navy (as no agents are permitted to work during the lock down period). They are reported to be incredibly helpful. 

Status: Closed
Indian ports are currently not open to foreign flagged vessels. Internal travel restrictions may be eased after 17 May and international travel may be possible some time after that. For cruising boats currently in the country, visas are being extended automatically and they will have 30 days in which to leave the country from the day lockdown is finally over.

Status: 14 day quarantine
Full lockdown  in Dubai has started to be eased with a night curfew from 8pm to 6am in place. Any foreign vessel arriving in UAE will be quarantined on arrival and can only enter via main ports of entry (in Dubai – Port Rashid), where health screening / monitoring and testing facilities are available. Local sailing permits are now being issued for sailing between 6am – 7pm only. Some repatriation flights in/out of UAE have started. For yachts in transit it appears to be possible to call into most ports to re-provision and re-fuel etc., but you will not be allowed to go ashore.

Things are changing, slowly. Some ports are opening up, slowly, and with stringent restrictions. It is obviously extremely hard to sit and wait, with no guarantee at the end of the waiting, but patience right now may be the key to both your safety and the safety of the people on the islands en route. Please inform us of any changes in your area, so we can keep Noonsite information as up to date as possible. 


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This list of transit ports was compiled by Noonsite in association with the Ocean Cruising Club.

First published 07 May, all the information in this document was accurate at the time of publication, however, with the rapidly changing situation during the current health emergency, rules and regulations are evolving on a daily basis. It is the Skipper’s responsibility to contact the intended port of refuge in advance and confirm that stopping is still possible and procedures remain the same. 

This document will be updated (and re-dated) as and when new information comes in. Follow what has been updated in the “update history” section at the bottom of the report.

Please e-mail [email protected] if you have information on any open/transit ports not included in this document or any updates to share.

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