The UK’s Chamber of Shipping has succeeded in securing exemptions for seafarers and offshore workers from the requirement that persons arriving in the UK from 8 June 2020 self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival. The Chamber has released a circular explaining new actions it proposes to take in order that practical measures are put in place to ensure that seafarers and offshore workers are able to benefit from the exemption. The exemption includes essential workers but not tourist and other passengers. The Chamber is in close contact with the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Home Office regarding international passenger travel.
The Government announced on 22 May 2020 that new restrictions would be applied on persons entering the UK with effect from 8 June 2020. These are:
- to provide journey and contact details when travelling to the UK
- not to leave the place where they are staying for the first 14 days that they are in the UK, except in very limited situations (known as ‘self-isolating’).
The measures will apply to arrivals from anywhere outside the UK with the exception of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. They will be reviewed at three-week intervals.
In addition to seafarers and offshore workers, there are exemptions for inspectors or surveyors of ships and workers with specialist technical skills, where those skills are required for essential or emergency works or services (including commissioning, maintenance, and repairs and safety checks) to ensure the continued production, supply, movement, manufacture, storage or preservation of goods. A full list of occupational groups who will be exempted from the quarantine requirement can be seen on the gov.uk website.
Seafarers, offshore workers and other persons exempted from quarantining will still be required to provide journey and contact details when travelling to the UK. This will be done using an online form, which is not yet available. Travellers might be asked to show that they have completed the form when they arrive in the UK.
The Chamber will check the practicality of the online form once it becomes available, to determine, amongst other things:
- whether a seafarer whose first language is not English will be able to complete it easily on their mobile phone
- whether a crewing or travel agent be permitted to complete the form on behalf of a seafarer?
- what will happen if a seafarer currently on a ship with limited access to wi-fi is unable to complete the form prior to setting off
- what will happen should the site where the online form is hosted crashes.
The Chamber will also seek early discussion with the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Home Office to clarify what proof of seafarer/offshore worker status will be accepted by Border Force. The Chamber will seek to ensure that instructions are issued to Border Force, in order to avoid hold-ups at UK entry points.
Those who are required to self-isolate will be permitted to leave the place where they are staying only if:
- they need urgent medical treatment
- they need support from social services
- they need food and medicine and cannot get them delivered or get a friend or family member to bring them
- they are attending the funeral of a close relative, or for other compassionate reasons
- there is an emergency, such as a fire at the place where they are staying
They are not permitted to have visitors, including friends and family, unless they are providing essential care. Any travellers to the UK who are not able safely to self-isolate at the place where they intend to stay must advise the UK Border Force, who will offer a choice of accommodation for the self-isolation period.