Oakland seaport, airport exempted from Bay Area lockdown

Big cranes at Port of Oakland.

The Port of Oakland and Oakland International Airport will keep operating despite an Alameda County order for residents to shelter in-place in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus, the port authority said Monday evening.

Six counties in the San Francisco Bay area ordered residents to stay home, with only essential businesses permitted to remain open.

The Port of Oakland is a major port that annually handles more than 2.5 million cargo containers and transacts more than $100 billion in global trade. The Oakland airport is home to a Federal Express hub and a smaller UPS facility. It also handles cargo from combination carriers Alaska Air, Hawaiian Airlines, Norwegian Air and Southwest Airlines. About 14 million passengers fly through Oakland each year.

“Our operations are critical to the health, safety, infrastructure and economy of our region,” said Port of
Oakland Executive Director Danny Wan. “We will continue to function as a vital gateway for global trade and transportation while doing everything possible to protect our employees, customers and business partners.”

The port authority said it would adopt a resilience plan to staff its operations while minimizing employee exposure to coronavirus. Officials are meeting with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union to determine what staffing levels are needed on the docks since there has been a slowdown in ocean vessel arrivals after China quarantined major industrial centers, resulting in limited exports in recent weeks. They are also conferring with marine terminal operators on how best to sanitize seaport operations and are asking everyone to practice social distancing.