Coronavirus quarantine rules are “causing chaos” for hundreds of oil and gas workers across the UK, an Aberdeen union boss has said.
RMT regional organiser Jake Molloy has backed calls for the Home Office to change “ill-conceived” rules that mean those working outside the UK continental shelf are not classed as key workers and are not exempted from 14-day quarantine.
The current guidance stipulates that only “workers required for the continued safe and secure operation, maintenance and essential support services for offshore oil and gas infrastructure in the UK” are exempt.
A number of Aberdeen offshore workers, who work in the Norwegian sector, contacted us last week to raise concerns about the Covid-19 regulations, which they say have made a section of the industry “second-class citizens”.
Mr Molloy sympathised with the comments, he said: “It’s bizarre, workers travelling to the UK to work in the oil and gas sector don’t have to quarantine, even if they’ve come from a place where there’s a high level of infection; and those who are travelling from the UK to other regions do have to quarantine on their return.
“It doesn’t matter that you could be returning from somewhere with a low level of Covid.
“It’s like most things that have been done in this crisis, very quick, but with very little thought. It’s causing chaos for these workers.”
Mr Molloy said it was an issue that was affecting “hundreds” of his members.
He told us that the RMT had made representations to the Home Office, but concerns were “shut down”.
He said: “It was a tremendous effort by Oil and Gas UK to get those workers coming into the UK to work on UK rigs on the exempt list in the first place.
“The impression we get now is that the Home Office feel the debate was had and the discussion is now shut down, it’s been placed in the ‘too difficult to deal with box’ and that’s that basically.
“It’s ill-conceived and it should be sorted.”
A UK Government spokesperson said: “It’s vital we safeguard the public and our economy from the potentially devastating impact of a second peak of the virus.
“To limit transmission from outside the UK, those travelling overseas for work will be required to self-isolate on their return, unless they are travelling to maintain our essential supply chains or our national infrastructure.”