Essential Energy Workers exempt from mandatory 14 day isolation requirement for UK travellers

28 May 2020


On Friday 22 May, the UK Government unveiled a major shift in border policy to be introduced next month in a bid to prevent a second wave of Covid-19 in the UK. Beginning 8 June, all arriving international travellers outside of the Common Travel Area will be required to provide their journey, contact and accommodation details when travelling to the UK. They must also self-isolate at their place of residence for the first 14 days (unless limited exceptions apply to them). On Wednesday 3 June, the Northern Ireland Executive endorsed the UK travel policy by confirming that all travellers entering or re-entering Northern Ireland from overseas will be required to self-isolate for two weeks from 8 June. It is understood that passengers travelling via Dublin Airport will also be subject to the quarantine requirement if that person has been abroad within a fortnight of their arrival through Dublin or to Northern Ireland on a direct flight. Anyone found to be doing this will be in direct breach of the quarantine regulations.

Some workers shall be exempt from the self-isolation requirement including certain categories of Energy Workers. For details on the self-isolation protocol and whether your works fall into the category of exemptions, please read our short guide below.

When does the mandatory 14-day self-isolation take effect and how long will it last?

All international arrivals to the UK and Northern Ireland will be required to self-isolate, without visitors, for 14 days from 8 June 2020. The UK Government nor the NI Executive have have provided a firm end date for the isolation requirement however the UK Government has announced that these measures will be subject to review every three weeks.

Who will be required to self-isolate for 14 days?

Individuals arriving from international destinations will be required to isolate for 14 days, if they don’t fall into a set list of exemptions noted below. These individuals will be required to complete an online ‘contact locator’ form providing their journey and contact details. They must also provide details of their accommodation in the UK so they can be reached if they, or someone they may have been in contact with, develops the disease. Please click here for further information on the contact locator form published by the UK Government.

Who is exempt from the 14-day self-isolation requirement?

Those who will not be subject to the measures above are published here. The exemptions applicable to the energy sector are as follows:

  • workers engaged in essential or emergency works related to a generating system, an electricity interconnector, a district heat network, communal heating, automated ballast cleaning and track re-laying systems or network;
  • a worker undertaking activities in offshore installations, upstream petroleum infrastructure, critical safety work on offshore installations and wells that are being decommissioned or which are being preserved pending demolition or reuse or activities for the provision of workers, goods, materials or equipment or in the provision of other essential services required to support the safe operation of activities;
  • a worker with specialist technical skills, where those specialist technical skills are required for essential or emergency works (including commissioning, maintenance, repairs and safety checks) or to fulfil contractual obligations or warranty specifications in, or in connection with, waste management facilities used for the management, sorting, treatment, recovery, or disposal of waste (including energy from waste);
  • a worker with specialist technical skills, where those specialist technical skills are required for essential or emergency works to ensure the continued safe and secure operations of the following infrastructure:
    • gas and electricity transmission and distribution networks and system operators
    • gas terminals
    • space infrastructure
  • person engaged in operational, maintenance or safety activities of a downstream oil facility that has a capacity in excess of 20,000 tonnes; and
  • a person involved in essential maintenance and repair of data infrastructure required to reduce and resolve outages, or in the provision of goods and services to support these activities.

How will the self-isolation requirement be enforced?

Public health authorities may contact individuals to check if they are complying with these conditions, or if the individual (or someone they were travelling with) develops coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms. Non-compliance with this requirement in the UK may result in a fine of £1,000 by way of a fixed penalty notice or potential prosecution and unlimited fine. The NI Executive is yet to announce the enforcement policies and / or penalties to be implemented in Northern Ireland but First Minister Arlene Foster confirmed that enforcement regulations will include fines of up to £1,000 for anyone who is found to be in violation of them.

It has also been announced that those entering the UK will be encouraged to download the 'NHS COVID-19 tracing app' on their phones, once available in the UK. This app is currently being tested on the Isle of Wight. However, Health Minister Mr Robin Swann has confirmed that Northern Ireland will concentrate on the physical contact tracing scheme for COVID-19, rather than an app, according to the Chief Scientific Adviser.

We remain committed and ready to assist businesses during these unprecedented times and would encourage that you get in touch with one of our COVID-19 team members or your usual Carson McDowell contact with any concerns or queries.

*This information is for guidance purposes only and does not constitute, nor should be regarded, as a substitute for taking legal advice that is tailored to your circumstances.