TO ALL SHIPPING BRANCHES AND REGIONAL COUNCILS.
Our ref: S13/3
15th February 2021
Impact of Covid Quarantine measures on seafarers and offshore workers
Further to Circular no. 310 of 21st December 2020, from today a new testing, self-isolation and quarantine regime comes into force for journey’s to the UK from ‘Red List’ countries which have been affected by a spread of Coronavirus variant infections. There are changes to existing arrangements which seafarers and offshore workers, including divers should take note of.
The latest UK Government guidance, including the thirty-three countries on the Red List, is here and the list of exempted occupations is here. But please be clear that if you are travelling back from a Red List country or have visited a country on that list in the last ten-days, you will be required to book managed quarantine for ten-days and to take a test for Covid-19 on the second and eighth days.
All passengers on all international flights direct to Scotland (not just from Red/Acute List countries) must book into quarantine, testing and self-isolation arrangements. However, the Scottish Government has published its own list of exemptions stating that seafarers are exempt from quarantine, testing and self isolation if they are not travelling from an ‘Acute List’ country and have not been to one in the last ten days.
It is now a regulatory requirement on ferry operators to deny entry to passengers seeking to board a ferry to the UK if the passenger has stated on the Passenger Locator Form (PLF) that they have visited a Red List country in the previous ten-day period. All Ratings working in departments where there may be contact with passengers must continue to complete the PLF. This only applies on international routes outside the Common Travel Area.
The only exemption from the managed quarantine requirement is for road haulage drivers traveling indirectly from Portugal to the UK, via Rotterdam or Calais for example.
Offshore oil and gas workers are required to take a coronavirus test before arrival in the UK, complete a PLF form and to take Coronavirus tests on days 2 and 8 on arrival. If they are not arriving from a red/acute list country, offshore oil and gas workers do not need to enter managed quarantine for ten-days.
Guidance from the Wales Government is here. The Northern Ireland Executive has also produced guidanceand there are no major differences for seafarers or offshore oil and gas workers to be aware of.
Commercial and inshore divers should check the section of guidance on offshore oil and gas workers, as this covers some but not all types of work connected with international travel.
The Department for Transport held an emergency meeting with maritime unions and employers on Friday afternoon to provide an update on the impact of these new health measures at the border on the maritime sector. Your Union raised concerns with the Government over the failure to fully exempt seafarers and offshore workers, including divers from the cost of these proposals, as well as the contradictory exemption provided for Portuguese hauliers whilst seafarers from the same country are either stranded in the UK or prevented from joining ship here.
This failure to fully exempt or make specific provision to cover costs will also further escalate the crew change crisis in UK waters, raising seafarer fatigue levels and heaping an unfair cost of up to £1,750 onto seafarers and other key workers. We will continue to raise these concerns with Government.
Any members affected by managed quarantine, testing or self-isolation requirements when travelling back to the UK from a Red/Acute List country, please email the Union immediately on email@example.com so that we can report these cases to employers and the Government.
I would be grateful if you would share this update with maritime and offshore members in your branch or region and I will keep you informed of further developments.