As such, the Association recommends that Pilot Representatives consult with their respective CHA’s (Competent Harbour Authorities) to undertake planning on a risk assessment basis, for this scenario. In planning this scenario, the following general considerations are offered:

In the absence of testing, advice received is that suspected cases should be treated as confirmed cases. Any person on-board a vessel should be isolated to a cabin and have been advised to follow the stay at home guidance, that is vessel and crew isolation for 14 days.

The CHA should consider therefore, if a pilot order is necessary for a particular vessel, or if commercial considerations can be delayed in order to protect health of the wider community.

There may be scenarios where a vessel has a cargo considered critical to the supply of national infrastructure (i.e. fuel/food). In this scenario, the DfT may offer advice, support, and where necessary, direction.

There may be a need for a vessel to medically disembark serious cases. In this scenario, Health Protection Teams (HPT), at Port Health and Public Health England (PHE), can advise on how close contacts (such as Pilots), can be managed. 

Asymptomatic carriers have been classified by the World Health Organisation (WHO), as the most prolific spreaders of the virus. As vessels are confined environments, and pilots would be entering an isolation area, consideration should be given to the impact on pilot service availability of pilots self-isolating after attending vessels with cases on board.

Employers and contractors have a general duty of care which extends to not placing employees or service providers at undue risk. 

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be used as a control measure of last resort in accordance with general principles of risk assessment and the hierarchy of hazard control. Pilots may have no training in infection control which may limit the potential effectiveness of any PPE.

Pilot groups should identify those able to undertake pilotage services at the lowest possible risk, taking into account age, underlying health conditions, and ability to self-isolate without further risk to others or the wider community.

Pilot groups should consider the impact to the provision of pilotage service if any pilots are required to self-isolate after contact with a vessel under Port Health isolation.

In addition, UK MPA highlights that pilots should be vigilant and observe the highest precautions with their own health and to minimise exposure whilst on board. This will include, no physical contact with crewmembers, observing a 2 metre distance separation whilst on board and only having essential crewmembers in the wheelhouse during the Act of Pilotage. The acceptance of food or drink whilst on board should be avoided.

To minimise exposure on departing vessels, agents should only book a Pilot for when the ship is ready to depart immediately the Pilot attends. If on attendance the vessel is not ready to depart due to cargo or other issues, the Pilot should not board. The 2 metre separation should be maintained if possible whilst onshore and in Pilot transport. Shoreside Pilot transport (taxi’s) should where at all possible be a dedicated service whereby the general public are excluded.