The Havyard Group announced that it has been given permission to resume work at the New Havyard Ship Technology shipyard in Norway two and a half weeks after work was suspended due to an outbreak of COVID-19 traced to its employees.
Initially, in mid-September, the Norwegian authorities thought that the outbreak had been contained to a few individuals along with a precautionary quarantining of their close contacts. However, as the cases began to spread in the relatively small community, and contact tracing centered on the shipyard and its employees, the authorities decided to close the yard to stop the spread of the virus. At that time, they reported 17 positive tests for the coronavirus.
After work was suspended, the shipyard cooperated with the local health authorities to conduct further investigations. In total, 495 people were tested for the virus at the shipyard. Havyard reports as of today a total of 91 people associated with the yard have been diagnosed with the infection. The last case of the infection, however, was confirmed four days ago on October 12.
According to the statement from the company, based on the halt in new cases of infection, the Hyllestad municipality where the yard is located has granted permission to reopen the shipyard. Work is expected to resume on October 19.
With work suspended at the yard since the beginning of October, Havyard said that it anticipates the closure will lead to delays in delivery for vessels that are currently being outfitted at the yard. They said that the yard was “mapping the consequences and eventual measures that can be implemented to make up for the lost production time.”
Many of the major shipyards have faced the challenge of managing COVID-19 and positive cases at their facilities. During the first phase of the pandemic, shipyards in France, Italy, and Spain were all forced to suspend work for weeks as their countries worked to manage the virus and contain its spread. In Germany, the MV Werften shipyard experienced severe financial difficulties requiring bridge loans from the German government that just recently permitted it to resume work after having been closed since the spring. Managing the virus remains a challenge for all of the major shipyards.