Seasonal workers arriving into Northern Ireland from amber list countries will no longer have to self-isolate on arrival, NI Minister for Agriculture Edwin Poots has announced.
The Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme will permit farm workers to take three COVID-19 tests in the days following their arrival instead of entering into a mandatory period of self-isolation.
The NI Department of Agriculture successfully sought an exemption from the Department of Health regarding the quarantine period for seasonal farm workers to allow the workers to enter into immediate employment on arrival.
“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,” stated Poots.
Workers entering NI under the scheme will avail of COVID-19 testing provided on their second, fifth and eight day in the country.
“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 tests on days two, five and eight following arrival,” the minister added.
Minister Poots commented that the availability of seasonal labour is an important factor in ensuring productivity in the horticultural sector, as perishable produce must be picked and packaged in a timely manner.
“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,” he concluded.