Namely, BPA explained that key maritime workers have ensured imports of foods, essential products, energy and fuel supplies continue to move into the country throughout the pandemic.
Therefore, it is critical that ports can remain open and their workforce remains resilient so that shops, public services and businesses are supplied with what the country needs.
In light of the situation, Sara Walsh, Head of Corporate Services at the British Ports Association, who has been leading on much of the Covid-19 response for the UK’s ports sector, commented:
"We understand the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and different parts of government are currently considering what sectors or particular roles or workers should be priortised for the Covid-19 vaccine.
From marine pilots, to cutter crew, crane and plant operators, vessel traffic service operators, tug operators, quayside operators, stevedores and linesmen. There are a number of “pinch point” roles within the ports sector that are essential to ensuring trade continues to flow and the wider supply chain remains resilient".
As explained, the vast majority of ports in the UK have been able to maintain continuous operations throughout the pandemic, but there is an increasing concern within the sector about the surge of infection rates.
As a result, the number of employees who are having to self-isolate, whether that be because they have tested positive or are a close contact of someone who has tested positive, has increased rapidly in certain parts of the country.
Overall, following the completion of phase one of the vaccination roll-out, BPA strongly urges the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation to include port workers, and in particular those in key “pinch point” roles to be priortised as a matter of urgency.