New Covid Testing Rules in Place for Seasonal Farm WorkersNeil Hardie
All seasonal workers travelling from overseas to work on Scottish farms will be required to take two Covid-19 tests in the first eight days of their stay, according to new Scottish Government rules.
As well as continuing to provide facilities for new arrivals to isolate for a 10-day period, farmers who employ overseas labour will be responsible for ensuring the free PCR tests are taken on day two and day eight – while workers are in self-isolation.
The Scottish Government has sent out a letter to all horticultural businesses outlining the new rules which bring agricultural workers into alignment with the testing requirements for all other workers exempt from hotel quarantine requirements.
Farmers are required to order test kits and machinery rings and agricultural co-operatives will act as collection points for used tests.
Regular courier services will be established from the Ringlink depots in Coupar Angus, Laurencekirk, Oldmeldrum and Elgin. There will also be depots at East of Scotland Growers at Cupar, Angus Growers at Arbroath, and Highland Business Services Ring at North Kessock.
The farmers’ union has backed the move. NFU Scotland (NFUS) horticultural working group chair, Iain Brown said it would give additional reassurance to existing workers on farms and in local communities that all steps to prevent the spread of Covid-19 are being taken.
He added: “Throughout the pandemic, NFUS has worked closely with Scottish Government to ensure Scotland’s valuable soft fruit and vegetable crops can continue to be safely picked, packed and delivered to shop shelves the length and breadth of the UK.
“Seasonal workers are crucial to that process and it is vital that, with Scottish strawberries now arriving on supermarket shelves, the industry continues plays its part this season in keeping staff safe and healthy while preventing the spread of the virus.”
Full guidance can be obtained from https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/working-safely/index.htm and also specific advice for the horticulture sector at https://ahdb.org.uk/coronavirus/seasonal-worker-guidance