Offshore energy and UK 14-day quarantine measures and exemptions: BEIS template letter, legislation and exemptions on Border Measures
The UK Chamber has been liaising with goverment to gain some clarity on the exemptions from the 14 day self-isolation measures, due to come into force on Monday 8 June 2020.
The information can be accessed at www.gov.uk/uk-border-control
According to the English regulations, The Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) Regulations 2020, the definition of “offshore installation” in s.24 of the health protection travel regulations is taken from s.44 of the Petroleum Act 1998, and on reading of the s.44 definition, it does appear to extend beyond offshore oil and gas to offshore wind structures.
The guidance for documentary evidence needed to establish the exemptions is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-travellers-exempt-from-uk-border-rules
At this moment in time, there is no reference to “offshore installation” in the guidance link, and misleadingly refers to offshore oil and gas, without reflecting the regulation’s use of the term "offshore installation".
The UK Chamber's undestanding of the regulation and intention is that:
- If you are working in the construction of an offshore wind farm or offshore oil and gas infrastructure and the work is being carried about on board a ship, the “seamen” exemption (s.7 of the The Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) Regulations 2020) covers anybody and everyone on board the ship, regardless of employer etc.
- If you are an inspector or surveyor, you can use the "inspector or surveyor exemption" (s.9 of The Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) Regulations 2020)
- The "offshore oil and gas infrastructure exemption" (s.24 of the The Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) Regulations 2020) in the guidance is supposed to reflect work on an offshore installation according to the regulations. The guidance is therefore currently misleading, as it is suppose to cover both offshore oil and gas and offshore wind operations.
- You can also use the "electricity transmission" exemption (s.18 of the The Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) Regulations 2020) for industrial personnel
Although not ideal, it is felt probably most prudent to
- use as many exemptions as you can as appplicable, and
- reference the sections within the regulations and not the guidance (yet).
The Department for Business, Energy and Indsutrial Strategy (BEIS) guidance and template letter has been updated to include the exemption categories (but not for the "seamen" exemption because the documents are different and this "maritime exemption" is under the purview of the Department for Transport).
If you are a vessel operator and responsible for those working on aboard, the "seamen" exemption should be used and there is no need to use the specific BEIS template (see attached), provided the documentary evidence as requested is complied with, though it could assist. Charterer's personnel working on vessels are envisaged to also be covered by this exemption.
If persons are being transported or accomodated to offshore installations (wind or oil and gas) and do not work on board the ship, it is considered that those people should use the BEIS template letter and be informed by their employer accordingly.
The PDF of the regulations laid in Parliament which include full legal text of the exemptions is also attached as applicable to England - titled "The Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) Regulations 2020".
The UK Chamber has made an enquiry to BEIS about Scotland's approach to these regulations. BEIS is of the understanding that the new Border Force measures will be a UK wide policy and the Devolved Administrations (Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) are developing the same regulations. BEIS will inform the UK Chamber when they have more information about this.
It therefore appears to suggest that this set of regulations will apply to travellers entering into England, and we hope to share the corresponding regulations for travellers coming into the devolved administrations.
Please get in touch if you have any queries.