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Government refuses to exclude seafarers from quarantine measures

10 February 2021

From Monday 15 February all travellers entering England from 'red list' countries in the last 10 days will be required to quarantine in a hotel, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said.

The government, despite intense lobbying by the industry including by Nautilus, has refused so far to countenance the exclusion of UK resident seafarers despite being among the first countries in the world to recognise seafarers as key workers and to call on others to recognise their essential role in keeping maritime supply chains moving.

It is understood that Scotland currently exempts seafarers, and those involved in essential supply chains for goods coming into the country, from its hotel quarantine requirements.

The new measures in England require that, before any travel is undertaken, an online booking is made for a quarantine package costing up to £1,750 per person, which includes the hotel, food, transport, and testing for the ten-day isolation period.

Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson said that he was: 'Dismayed that the government had not followed its own policy of recognising the essential role that seafarers play in keeping supply chains open. Quite how the UK expects other countries to respect our seafarers as key workers is beyond me,' he added.

'If the principle that seafarers are exempt from Covid-19 measures because they work in an essential service and because they work on ships, do not mingle with the general populations of high risk countries, and only travel under strict health and safety protocols to mitigate the health risks, I fear for what lies ahead. If more and more countries are added to the red list, the jobs and livelihoods of my members are at risk. We already know the Covid-19 financial support that the government provides does not extend to the majority of British seafarers. So much for being key workers.'

Mr Dickinson also added: 'Seafarer's must not be left to carry the can for additional Covid measures, including the costs of any hotel quarantine. Their employers will have to pay, and no leave should be sacrificed either.'

Nautilus believes that the list of countries from which travel is currently banned include several where there are major offshore oil and gas projects which provide employment for significant numbers of the British maritime professionals. These include offshore Brazil, Namibia and Nigeria.

Members that are currently out of the UK and due to return after 15 February should first contact their employer for assistance. For additional support from the Union, members can contact their industrial official.

For out of hours and emergency assistance, members can contact Nautilus 24/7.