‘Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise’ — Port of LA open

Nine vessels were being worked at the Port of Los Angeles Wednesday when Executive Director Gene Seroka provided a video update on the coronavirus response.

“First and foremost, the Port of Los Angeles is open for business and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise,” Seroka said with a big smile.

Seroka said the port is in constant communication with its stakeholders, including marine terminal operators, labor leaders, railroads and harbor truckers, to ensure they have the rules in place to limit or close operations as necessary in order to control the spread of COVID-19. 

“Our highest priority is maintaining a safe and healthy working environment throughout the port complex while continuing our role of keeping consumer goods, critical materials and supplies flowing into all of the nation’s 435 congressional districts served by the Port of Los Angeles,” he said.

Seroka said the port complex has had no landside impacts to operations from the coronavirus.

“All marine terminal operations at the port are open, and our facilities are processing cargo through a combination of vessel exchange, staging of containers inside of terminals, on-dock rail operations and truck gate activity,” he said, adding that seven cargo ships, a liquid bulk vessel and a bulk cargo vessel were being worked at the port Wednesday.   

“Overall volume remains at 85% of normal traffic as China, our largest source of cargo, continues to bring manufacturing up to normal levels as their COVID-19 containment measures are gradually lifted,” Seroka said. “Due to the anticipated 15% drop in cargo volume during the first quarter of 2020, jobs across our supply chain are being affected. However, as China manufacturing is restored over the next 30 to 60 days, we expect cargo volume here to grow, creating demand for more workers from the docks to the regional distribution centers and beyond. In fact, in recent days we have seen a 20% increase in union labor shifts compared to the prior week.”

Seroka earlier said 40 vessel sailings from Asia to the Port of LA scheduled between Feb. 11 and April 1 were canceled

In Wednesday’s video message, he also addressed concerns over the potential for virus spread from foreign crews on ships calling the Port of LA and said long-standing rules require ships to report any illnesses on board four days in advance of arrival.