Migrant workers arriving into Northern Ireland via the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme will now qualify for exemptions from the Covid-19 related travel restrictions, agriculture Minister Edwin Poots MLA has announced.
The exemptions are as a result of the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) submitting a request to the Department of Health (DoH). The Seasonal Agricultural Workers Pilot Scheme for 2021 will permit seasonal agricultural workers, who have an offer of employment to carry out specific activities in edible horticulture on a named farm, to claim an exemption from post-arrival testing and self-isolation when undertaking the exempt activity, if they have travelled from an amber list country. They will be able to avail of an exemption from self-isolation while working as long as they undertake Lateral Flow Device tests on days 2, 5 and 8 following arrival.
Minister Poots said: “I am pleased to announce that exemptions from certain Covid-19 regulations have been put in place for seasonal agricultural workers arriving in NI to work on edible horticulture farms. Access to seasonal workers is essential to the continued viability of the edible horticulture sector and given the relatively short timeframe of the visas, these exemptions will ensure that there is no time wasted when workers arrive here, and farms can benefit from the extra labour immediately.”
Minister Poots added: “It is critical that we all continue to follow the Covid regulations, as put in place by the Department of Health. The amendments to the regulations for seasonal agricultural workers mean that workers will be able to avail of an exemption from self-isolation while working if they undertake Lateral Flow Device (LFD) tests on days 2, 5 and 8 following arrival.”
LFD tests can be accessed in Northern Ireland for free by the edible horticulture farms for their seasonal agricultural workers from:
- Workplace testing (if your employer is offering this testing);
- Collection from a local test site Find where to get rapid lateral flow tests - NHS (test-and-trace.nhs.uk)
- Ordering tests at Order coronavirus (COVID-19) rapid lateral flow tests - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Further information can be found on the nidirect website (Coronavirus (COVID-19): international travel - sector exemptions | nidirect).
Notes to editors:
The Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (Amendment No. 5) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021 came into operation at 4.00a.m. on 26th July 2021.
2. These Regulations amend the Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021 (“the Principal Regulations”) to introduce a new exempt category for Seasonal Agricultural Workers who can claim an exemption from post-arrival testing and self-isolation when undertaking the exempt activity, if they have travelled from an amber list country.
4. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office
5. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.
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