Seasonal poultry workers granted Covid-19 travel exemption

Seasonal poultry workers from overseas have been granted an exemption to Covid-19 travel restrictions, allowing them to work in England during the busy run-up to Christmas.

The exemption came into force on Tuesday (17 November) and covers at least 1,000 seasonal workers from countries including Poland, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Crucially, with the Christmas effort in full swing, it allows workers to operate at their designated farm or processing plant during the 14-day self-isolation period.

See also: Sheep farmers ‘can rear beef’ in no-deal Brexit – Eustice

Outside of working, and travelling in a Covid-19-secure manner between accommodation and the business site, workers must also self-isolate in line with local restrictions.

The decision was taken by the government and officials from Public Health England after protracted negotiations with the NFU and the British Poultry Council.

Both bodies stressed the vital importance of skilled foreign workers to the UK poultry sector. 

The NFU has also produced a list of key requirements for employers and staff to meet the terms of the exemption:

  • Employers should provide appropriately translated, clear instructions about workers’ living and working arrangements, and industry guidance on social distancing before they travel to England.
  • Before arriving in England, travellers must complete the Passenger Locator Form and obtain passport details, travel itinerary and the accommodation address in England. Forms can be submitted up to 48 hours before arrival in England.
  • EU workers will need a letter or email from their employer confirming their EU status and personal details, including mobile telephone number, key addresses, employer contact details, and work start and end dates.
  • Employees must leave England before 31 December 2020.
  • Non-EU workers should present their visa at the border as usual if they’re travelling as a seasonal poultry worker.
  • Accommodation must be provided where arriving workers can self-isolate. They must remain at the address specified in their Passenger Locator Form unless they are at work or travelling to/from work.
  • Employers will need to arrange appropriate accommodation and transport for workers that will limit the risks of Covid-19 transmission.
  • Employers should collect workers from the airport, port or station and take them directly to their accommodation.
  • Transport should be Covid-19 secure and, where social distancing is not possible, cohorts should be created.
  • Workers should travel, live, work and self-isolate in the same cohort or group of not more than six people.
  • Workers may only work in the same one function and location for the first 14 days after arriving in England.
  • Employers should arrange for groceries, shopping and medication to be delivered to workers’ accommodation so that they can self-isolate.