Executive Order 3255

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Establishing Maritime Quarantine Regulations for the Canal Zone and Harbors of the Cities of Panama and Colon, Republic of Panama.

By virtue of the authority vested in me by law, and in conformity with Article VII of the Panama Canal treaty between the United States of America and the Republic of Panama, dated November 18, 1903, I hereby establish the following maritime quarantine regulations for the Canal Zone, and for the harbors of the cities of Panama and Colon, Republic of Panama.


The Division of Quarantine of the Panama Canal shall continue under the jurisdiction of the Health Department of the Panama Canal, subject to the supervision of the Governor of the Panama Canal.


Masters of vessels clearing from any foreign port or from any port in the possessions or other dependencies of the United States, or touching at any of the said ports, for a port in the Canal Zone or for the port of Panama or Colon, Republic of Panama, or for passage through the Panama Canal, must obtain a bill of health in duplicate from the officer or officers authorized by the quarantine laws and regulations in the United States to sign such certificates for vessels entering the ports of the United States.


Vessels clearing from a foreign port for a port in the United States or one of their possessions or dependencies, and touching at any port of the Canal Zone, or the port of Panama or Colon, Republic of Panama, or for passage through the Panama Canal, shall not be required to obtain an additional bill of health under these regulations; but bills of health so obtained for entry into ports of the United States shall be presented upon arrival at any port of the Canal Zone or at the port of Panama or Colon, as the case may be, for the inspection of the Quarantine Officer of the Panama Canal.


Masters of vessels clearing from ports of the United States for ports of the Canal Zone or the port of Panama or Colon, Republic of Panama, or for passing through the Panama Canal, must obtain a port sanitary statement signed by the officer authorized under the laws of the United States to issue such statements, and must present such statement to the Quarantine Officer of the Panama Canal.

  1. The officer issuing a bill of health at a foreign port or a port in any possession or other dependency of the United States shall satisfy himself, by inspection if necessary, that the conditions as certified to by him in said bill of health are true, and he is hereby authorized to withhold the bill of health to said vessel unless these regulations are complied with; and he shall note upon the face of the bill of health any additional facts that may guide the quarantine officer of the Panama Canal, in order that the latter may impose such restrictions as he may deem necessary on account of the insufficiency of the precautions taken at the port of departure of the vessel, or that he may allow such concessions as he may deem proper on account of the precautions taken at such port of departure.
  2. Inspection is required of all vessels from ports in which cholera, yellow fever, or plague in men or rodents, prevails, or at which smallpox or typhus fever prevails in epidemic form and at which a medical officer is detailed.
  3. The inspection required by this section is such an examination of the vessel, cargo, passengers, crew, personal effects of same, including the examination of manifests and other papers, food and water supply and the ascertainment of its relations with the shore, the manner of loading and possibilities of invasion by rats and insects as will enable the inspecting officer to determine if these regulations have been complied with.
  4. The examination shall be made by daylight, as late as practicable before the ship sails. The vessel must be inspected before the passengers go aboard. The passengers shall be inspected just before embarkation, and the crew shall be inspected on the deck of the vessel; and no communication shall be had with the vessel after such inspection except by permission of the officer issuing the bill of health.
  5. Before a bill of health is issued to a vessel having on board or having had on board a case of quarantinable disease or the infecting agents of any disease adequate measures must be taken to remove such infection.
  6. Vessels must be mechanically clean in all their parts, especially the holds, forecastle and steerage, prior to storing cargo therein or receiving passengers thereon. Any portion of the vessel liable to have been infected by any quarantinable disease must be mechanically cleaned, and all bedding, linen, clothing, utensils and other articles that may have been used or soiled by the sick person must be removed and sterilized before the issuance of a bill of health.
  7. Nothing containing organic refuse shall be taken as ballast from any port.
  8. Bedding which has been used, upholstered furniture, wearing apparel, personal effects, and second-hand articles of a nature similar to those incorporated in this section, which the consular or medical officer has reason to believe have been soiled or that may carry lice, fleas, bed bugs, or other vermin, should be treated to correct this condition prior to shipment. Any article of the class mentioned in this paragraph, which can not be rendered clean and free from vermin, should not be shipped.
  9. Passengers should avoid embarking, as far as possible, at a port where a quarantinable disease prevails; and communication between the vessel and the snore must be reduced to a minimum at ports where a quarantinable disease prevails, and the personnel of the vessel must remain on board during their stay in such port. No person suffering from a quarantinable disease shall be allowed to take passage on a vessel, except lepers with proper authority returning to their native country.
  10. Passengers and crew, merchandise and baggage, coming from an infected locality, but shipped at an uninfected port, must submit to the same restrictions as are imposed at an infected port before being allowed to ship.

  1. The following vessels arrived at ports of the Canal Zone or the port of Panama or Colon, Republic of Panama, shall be inspected by the quarantine officer of the port prior to the vessel's entry:

    (a) Vessels from foreign ports and from ports of the United States and their dependencies;
    (b) Vessels with sickness on board;
    (c) Vessels from Panamanian ports where quarantinable disease prevails;
    (d) Vessels from Panamanian ports carrying passengers or articles suspected by the quarantine officers of conveying the infection of a communicable disease;
    (e) Vessels from Panamanian ports having touched at a foreign port since the last quarantine inspection.
  2. Every vessel subject to quarantine inspection shall be considered in quarantine until granted free pratique, and such vessel shall fly a yellow flag from the foremast head from sunrise to sunset, and shall observe all the other requirements of vessels actually quarantined.
  3. The master of a vessel in quarantine shall allow no communication with his vessel except as is provided in these regulations, nor shall any water craft approach within 200 meters of such vessel.
  4. No person or article of any kind shall be allowed to leave a vessel in quarantine except with the consent of the quarantine officer.
  5. If a boat of any kind has communication with a vessel in quarantine, such boat and its personnel shall be subjected to such measures of quarantine as the quarantine officer may judge to be necessary.
  6. No person other than the quarantine officers shall go aboard any vessel subject to quarantine until such vessel has been granted pratique, provided, however, that this section shall not apply to pilots, customs officers and admeasurers, while on duty; nor shall it apply to the agent of the vessel, if such agent has the consent of the quarantine officer to go aboard of such vessel.
  7. The quarantine officer shall decide whether such vessel, or its personnel or passengers, or any article aboard of such vessel is liable to convey any of the following disease: Plague, yellow fever, cholera, smallpox, typhus fever, leprosy, or such other disease as may from time to time be declared to be quarantinable by the Governor of the Panama Canal; and if the quarantine officer is of the opinion that such vessel is liable to convey any of the said diseases, he shall place the vessel in quarantine, and shall forbid the entry of the said vessel until the vessel, in his judgment, is no longer liable to convey any such disease; and he shall take such measures in respect to the vessel, its passengers, personnel or cargo as in his judgment may be required to prevent the introduction of such disease into the Canal Zone or into the cities of Panama and Colon, Republic of Panama.
  8. Every case of sickness aboard any vessel in the harbors of the Canal Zone or in the port of Panama or Colon shall be immediately reported by the master of the vessel to the quarantine officer.


Quarantine stations for the detention of passengers and others undergoing quarantine under these regulations shall be established and maintained at such places as may be fixed by the Governor of the Panama Canal from time to time: but the present quarantine stations of the Panama Canal shall continue until changed in conformity with the provisions of this section.

Quarantine inspections shall be made at the places and hours as may be fixed by the Governor from time to time; and he may, when necessary, designate quarantine anchorages to be used exclusively for quarantined vessels.


In the discretion of the Chief Health Officer of the Panama Canal, passengers boarding vessels at ports subject to quarantine under these regulations may be required to present, upon their arrival at any port of the Canal Zone or the ports of Panama or Colon, to the quarantine officer, personal certificates from the officer authorized by these regulations to sign bills of health, which certificates should certify to the passenger's sanitary condition and history, provided, however, that due notice shall be given to the agents of the steamship company on the Isthmus of Panama that such certificates will be required.


The Chief Quarantine Officer shall have charge of the sanitation of the harbors of the Canal Zone and of the harbors of Panama and Colon, Republic of Panama, and vessels lying therein, and shall see that such measures are enforced as are necessary for the proper hygiene of vessels, their cargoes and personnel, whether in port or en route, and to prevent the vessels or their personnel from being a source of danger to other vessels or to the port. And he_ is hereby authorized to certify bills of health to vessels clearing from ports under his jurisdiction, setting forth in such bill of health the conditions of the port, vessel, its cargo, passengers and crew; and he is authorized, at the request of the master of any vessel, to disinfect the same and otherwise place such vessel in a sanitary condition so that it may leave the port with a clean bill of health and be able to make entry at the port of destination without further disinfection or detention in quarantine.


The Governor of the Panama Canal is hereby authorized to establish a schedule of charges from time to time to cover services rendered by the quarantine division of the Panama Canal in the disinfection of vessels, their cargoes, for the transportation and subsistence of passengers while in quarantine, for placing guards aboard vessels when necessary, and for the inspection of vessels outside of regular hours, which charges shall be paid to the Panama Canal by the person or interest receiving such service.


A certificate from the quarantine officer shall be required of every vessel subject to inspection, as a prerequisite for the customs entry or passage \through the Canal of such vessel; and any instructions written into this certificate shall be binding upon the vessel and shall be observed by all persons. The certificate provided for by this section shall be in either of the following terms:

(a) That the vessel has complied with all the quarantine regulations and is entitled to free pratique;
(b) That the vessel is allowed to proceed under certain conditions and is entitled to conditional pratique.


Persons detained in quarantine under these regulations shall not be permitted to go outside of the limits of the quarantine station without permission of the quarantine officer, and if any such person shall leave the quarantine station without such permission he may be taken into custody by the quarantine officer wherever found and returned to the quarantine station, and for this purpose the quarantine officer may call upon the police for assistance.

No person except the Chief Health Officer of the Panama Canal or his representatives, the quarantine officers and employees and personnel of the station shall be permitted to enter in or upon a quarantine station without permission from a quarantine officer of the Panama Canal.


The medical officers of the Panama Canal, duly clothed with authority to act as quarantine officers at any port within the Canal Zone and the porte of the cities of Panama and Colon, Republic of Panama, when discharging the duties of quarantine officers are hereby authorized to administer oaths and take declarations in matters relating to the administration of the quarantine laws or regulations of the Panama Canal.


The Governor of the Panama Canal is hereby authorized to prescribe, from time to time, the form of bill of health, sanitary statement, or other forms required or made necessary by these regulations, and to issue from time to time such general or special instructions, not inconsistent with these regulations, as he may deem necessary to the due enforcement of these regulations.


Any person failing to observe the requirements of these regulations or of any instructions issued by the Governor of the Panama Canal in conformity with these regulations, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars or by imprisonment in jail not exceeding ninety days, or both such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the Court, in conformity with the Act of Congress authorizing the establishment of these regulations.


All laws, orders and regulations, or parts thereof, in conflict with this order are hereby repealed.


These regulations shall take effect thirty days from and after this date.

Signature of Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson 

The White House,

31 March, 1920.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).