During the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, Nautilus updated its FAQs, shedding light on the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC) and Seafarers’ Employment Agreement (SEA) amid the oubreak.
- Can I refuse to join my ship if, as part of the rotation, it is going into a destination where infection rates are high?
Under the MLC ship owners have a duty to protect the health and safety of seafarers.
However, it may be harder to justify refusing to join a ship that will visit an area of high infection as part of its rotation, as the risk of contracting the virus could be considered minimal if you are not going ashore and there is no contact with the local population. Companies should have conducted detailed risk assessments and communicated these with their employees.
- Will I be required to enter quarantine when I off-sign from a ship in a non UK port?
ITF/ICS guidance recommends that governments exempt seafarers from any mandatory quarantine periods that may be enforced for other travellers. However, many countries do require quarantine.
Shipping companies should supply seafarers with detailed information on what to expect during the repatriation process including any restrictions that they will be expected to comply with.
Members should contact their industrial organiser immediately if they have any concerns.
- Do I need to undertake mandatory quarantine on arrival in the UK?
A mandatory 10-day quarantine period will be enforced for the majority of arrivals in the UK. Previously, a ‘travel corridor’ system was in place for certain countries which meant that travellers arriving from countries on the designated ‘safe’ list did not need to self isolate however, this system was suspended on the 18 January 2021.
On the 15 January, it also became mandatory to provide a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival in the UK.
However, seafarers, masters and pilots who have been repatriated to the UK or travelled to the UK in the course of their work, are exempt from the self isolation requirements and the requirement to provide a negative PCR test.
To remind, seafarers are not exempt from the requirement to self-isolate if they have travelled from a country on the travel ban list and will not be eligible for the test to release scheme.
It should be noted that seafarers, masters and pilots may be required to complete the required passenger locator form (see Q5).
Seafarers and masters, maritime pilots, fishers and inspectors and surveyors of ships may be asked to produce one of the following:
- a Seafarers Identification Document (SID)
- their joining papers
- a seafarer’s discharge book (Continuous Certificate of Discharge)
- a basic training certificate
- a deceleration from the registered owners of the vessel that they are a crew member
The exemption from self isolation requirements applies when a seafarer arrives in the UK to join a ship, leaves their ship in the UK to be repatriated or returns to the UK having been discharged from their ship overseas. Seafarers are still expected to comply with any restrictions that are in place in the country that they are residing including the requirement to self-isolate if they have coronavirus symptoms.
- Will I be required to undergo mandatory hotel quarantine when I arrive in the UK?
The government has recently announced that arrivals from ‘red list’ countries will be required to undergo mandatory quarantine in hotel accommodation.
Details of the scheme are yet to be announced but Nautilus is liaising with the government to determine how seafarers will be affected by the policy. As soon as further details are available, information will be published via the Nautilus website.
- Do I need to provide a negative test before travelling to join my ship
Governments around the world are implementing restrictions on travel similar to those being imposed in the UK.
The situation is changing very rapidly so you are advised to check the most up to date requirements for the country you are travelling to.
Your employer should provide you with all the information you need and also pay for any test that is required. It should be noted that some countries require a test other than PCR for arrival for example a LAMP or antigen test.