Ports Coronavirus Hub

In cooperation with the UK Government the British Ports Association (BPA) has compiled a compendium of information for all UK ports in relation to COVID-19. The ports industry undertakes a vital role in the UK economy, facilitating trade, fuel, energy, fishing, recreation and tourism. All tiers of Government and the industry are committed to UK ports staying open to help sustain the country during this challenging time.

The BPA is focussed on supporting the ports industry during this unprecedented time. As well as our ongoing discussions with all levels of Government about the response and developing best practice amongst our members, we have developed a Ports Coronavirus Hub to offer guidance and advice for the UK ports sector.

The Hub will be updated regularly with Government advice, and information from our members and external organisations, so do keep an eye on it. 

The BPA represents 86% of the ports by trade volume in the UK and our members manage around 400 ports, harbours and terminals. However this hub is very much open to all, for further information or if you have any queries please contact info@britishports.org.uk.

If you are a member of the BPA and have not subscribed to receive our regular circulars giving updates on the coronavirus pandemic, please email info@britishports.org.uk to be added to the distribution list.

Issues being experienced by UK ports

The British Ports Association have created a ‘postbox’ for submitting issues the UK ports sector are experiencing as a result of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. Such issues could be marine issues, general business issues, issues affecting the wider trades you deal with, or something else. Feel free to submit multiple points in one go or come back and add more at a later time.

Any information submitted will be shared with the Government to help them and BPA understand emerging impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on ports. Nothing will be shared with other ports or external organisations (other than general information and key themes).


Please contact sara.walsh@britishports.org.uk with any questions.

BPA Economic Recovery Plan

On 20 May we published an economic recovery plan for government to revive the UK economy post-Coronavirus. The document highlights how investment in ports can play a key part in the UK’s healing from what is set to be the deepest economic shock in living memory.

The economic recovery plan proposes three packages for government to use, to utilise ports in kick-starting economic activity:

     1. Continued medium-term cash flow and business support
Measures outlined within the plan include a government factoring service. This would allow ports and other businesses to raise funds in the short term. The BPA also highlights how a deferral of business rates backed by central Government would also free up capital to help cash flow. Looking ahead, the BPA is asking government to support skills development to ensure retaining and developing people is not a cost burden.

     2. A massive scaling up of the UK’s infrastructure ambitions including a Green Maritime Fund for sustainable development
Measures outlined within the plan include a UK Infrastructure Bank and a Green Maritime Fund. The BPA welcomes government’s sustainability objectives but stresses that significant investment will be required to achieve these targets. The BPA is, therefore, proposing government adopts a Green Maritime Fund, to unlock capital, aid the growth of the sector while also taking steps towards the Government’s most critical long-term policy aims. The BPA will also shortly be publishing a paper that explores how to overcome the barriers to ship-to-shore power.

     3. A bold and broad-based inclusive Freeports and fast track planning policy
The UK government is in the process of developing a UK-wide strategy on Freeports, and the BPA will be outlining our views further within our response to the consultation. In the meantime, we urge the government not to limit its ambition to the previously suggested 10 site proposals as there is a real danger of leaving some regions behind by limiting the scope. We also ask that government reclassifies ‘port zones’ with improved planning, fiscal and regulatory status.


You may also wish to refer to our recent press release giving the results of a recent survey of UK ports.

Advice posters to be displayed at ports

Posters for ports of entry in Scotland: here

Posters and digital assets for ports in England: here

Posters for returning travellers: A3 | Landscape | Portrait

Self isolation information: Portrait

Stay at home: A3 white background | A4 white backgroundA3 black background | A4 black background

Do not travel if you have symptoms: A4 | A3

If possible, please display the ‘stay at home’ posters in public areas. If ports think these particular posters may cause confusion with workers or members of the public then please display the ‘handwashing advice’ posters found below.

Handwashing advice: A3 white background | A4 white background | A3 black background | A4 black background

Guidance for shipping and sea ports

This guidance will assist ships (including cargo vessels, ferries and cruise ships) and sea ports in providing advice to staff on addressing coronavirus (COVID-19), on ships and in sea ports.

What you need to know

  • Before boarding the ship, crew and passengers should be asked if they have a new, continuous cough or a high temperature
  • If someone becomes unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they should be sent home or to their cabin
  • Everyone should be reminded to wash their hands for 20 seconds more frequently than normal
  • Crew and passengers should be given clear instructions on what to do if they develop symptoms and how and to whom they should report this
  • The Master of the Ship should notify the Port Health Authority about any suspected cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) as soon as possible, who will then inform the local Health Protection Team (HPT)
  • Appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning of surfaces that a person with symptoms has come into contact with are key measures to stop the spread of the virus


A number of smaller ports have asked us questions about whether the ‘open port duty’ still applies during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in the event of there not being enough staff to safely unload a ship or a pilot not being available or at leisure or fishing ports that have limited or no regular activities at present. As you will appreciate while the BPA cannot give members legal advice, we have been in touch with the Department for Transport and have also spoken to our legal advisers about this.

They have both concluded that the ‘open port duty’, which is set out in section 33 of the Harbours, Docks and Piers Clauses Act 1847, does not apply in this situation. In such cases ultimately it is the capacity of the port that determines accordance with these rules - whether that be quayside length, channel depth, port facilities or staff availability.

Ports also have a duty of care to their staff, users and others. This is a legal obligation to put reasonable measures in place to ensure all relevant parties are protected from harm so would further support your decision to turn away a ship wishing to call at the port if it was not safe to do so.

Guidance for transport operators and organisations

This guidance will help organisations, agencies and others (such as self-employed transport providers) understand how to provide safer workplaces and services for themselves, their workers and passengers across all modes of private and public transport. It outlines measures to assess and address the risks of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the transport sector across England. Each transport provider will need to translate the principles and examples in this guidance into specific actions. It must be considered alongside legal duties and other guidance produced by the government.

The guidance includes information on:

  • Maintaining social distancing for workers and passengers.
  • Workforce planning and protecting workers.
  • Keeping public and private areas and modes of transport clean to prevent transmission of the virus.
  • Keeping workers and passengers informed of the latest coronavirus related safety procedures.
  • Advice on how to manage passengers when demand exceeds capacity.

The guidance includes some information about queuing, crowd management and seating for passengers (see pages 13-15), as well as cleaning (pages 17-18), ventilation (page 19) and communication and training (page 19-20).


FAQs from Public Health England and industry guidance for pilot transfer and vessel management process

The DfT has been hosting regular calls for the maritime sector to raise questions and gain clarification from Public Health England (PHE) experts. The BPA joins these calls along with other industry associations and port representatives. A very helpful FAQ document has been prepared for the maritime sector and is a living document which is regularly updated as needed.


A flow chart has been developed giving guidance that we hope will assist ports with the pilotage and vessel management process. This has been created in collaboration with the UK Major Ports Group, UK Harbour Managers Association and UK Chamber of Shipping

The flowchart is a living document and as you’ll see on pages 2-3 there are still some questions that we hope to receive clarification and guidance on from government and other agencies such as Public Health England. It is in a format that can be edited so you can adapt it locally as you see fit.


We have also developed a suggested procedure for maritime pilot transfer arrangements via pilot cutters. It is designed to give some non-prescriptive options to help pilotage authorities remain resilient. It will be kept under review.


Harwich Haven Authority have installed Perspex and polyurethane sheeting onboard their launches to protect their pilots and crew from COVID-19. They have kindly shared details with members, please click here for details.

The MCA have advised that any modifications to pilot vessels are to be done in conjunction with the Certifying Authority, which may be the MCA. This is just to ensure the vessels remain within their certification requirements.

Fishing ports

On 7 April we wrote to the Fisheries Ministers in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland with five key asks for fishing ports:

  1. An extension of the 12-month business rates holiday to fishing/seafood related businesses including ports
  2. Emergency support from Government to compensate harbours for lost landings dues
  3. Government to cover ports for lost income from harbour dues from fishing vessels and tenants’ rents unable to pay or taking ‘rent holidays’
  4. Fisheries administrations to fast track previously agreed grant funding
  5. Keeping open innovative policy options to get the sector on its feet once the emergency response is over

Various fisheries support schemes have been launched - England | Wales | Northern Ireland | Scotland. There is no direct support for fishing ports included in these schemes.

On 4 May there was an article in the Telegraph about fishing ports and we are continuing to highlight the challenges facing the sector.

Marine leisure activities

The Welsh Government have provided the following information on leisure activity connected to ports, harbours and marinas. This follows the updated regulations and FAQs.

“Outdoor exercise activity is permitted provided it takes place ‘locally’, outdoors and that strict social distancing is maintained. As a rule of thumb, ‘local’ means within circa 5 miles of people’s homes, although some judgement on the scope of ‘local’ will be needed in reflection of rural communities. Additionally, the guidance recognises that certain forms of exercise which, though they start locally, may temporarily take you further afield.

Therefore, as a general rule, those who have vessels docked at a marina local to them should be able to access and use the marina, provided the marina operators feel it is safe and appropriate for them to do so (e.g.; once they have undertaken the appropriate COVID-19 risk assessments and put in place measures to ensure users and staff are able to conform to social distancing rules etc.).

As previously stated, there is specific sports and leisure guidance under development that is being published later this week and will include marine activity to give further clarity.”

On 28 May the Scottish First Minister announced a number of changes to lockdown restrictions. Unrestricted outdoors exercise and non-contact outdoor activities in the local area are allowed from 29 May, whilst adhering to social distancing measures. Guidance was issued for staying at home and away from others. It includes sections on meeting others outdoors, exercise and activity and public gatherings. It is recommended that people should stay within their local area when going outside for exercise or other activities, ideally not travelling more than 5 miles.

We are not aware that activities such as sailing and motor boating are listed in any Scottish Government guidance issued to date, however the list of exercise and non-contact outdoor leisure activities here is not an exhaustive list and does include water sports and angling. Transport Scotland have advised that this guidance on exercise and non-outdoor contact leisure activities should be followed. Guidance is still to come from Active Scotland and Sport Scotland, and it will be similar to what has been produced for England.


As outlined in the NI Executive ‘Approach to Decision Making’ document, outdoor spaces and public sport amenities can open once the NI Health Minister approves an amendment to the Coronavirus Restrictions (allowing Step 1 activities to commence) which occurred on 19 May. Step 1 allows for some water activities to take place. It states that social distancing must be maintained between individuals who are not from the same household, and there should be no shared contact with hard surfaces. Also groups of 4-6 people who do not share a household can meet outdoors if they can maintain social distancing. Any changes in ‘steps’ will be led by scientific and medical advice rather than particular dates.

Sport Northern Ireland have published guidance for sport and recreation which may be of interest. It states that the time spent in each step may vary and is likely to be a minimum of 3 weeks but potentially significantly longer (e.g. 6 or more weeks) if criteria are not met to permit the next transition.

Page 11 outlines the steps for resumption of water sports throughout Steps 1-5 which includes sailing, canoeing, wind surfing, canoeing, rowing, kayaking, surfing, paddle boarding and the use of motorised craft (in line with navigation authority guidance). It gives details on indoor and sporting facilities, and events.


The DfT has issued Guidance for International Recreational Maritime Sector for English ports.

It includes the following points which you might want to bear in mind:

• Border Force are working with individual ports to ensure, where present, the configuration of Border Control can allow those individuals who have failed to complete the Passenger Locator Form to do so at the border.
• Harbour masters are requested to continue working with local Border Force commands to ensure international recreational maritime travellers comply with this requirement.

Recreational sailors are required follow the borders health control measures. These rules include requirements for all international arrivals, other than those travellers from the Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man (Common Travel Area/CTA), to complete a mandatory digital health contact form and (unless exempt) to quarantine for 14 days after their arrival. This is a UK wide requirement and the form is available here.

The rules are for all transport modes and therefore this also means that people arriving on yachts from outside the UK or the CTA will be expected to have completed digital form prior to (or if needed on) arrival in the UK.

The quarantine measures apply on arrival into the UK (unless the persons are exempt) and prior isolation at sea is not taken into account. If visitors are unable to complete the online form (no more than 48 hours) in advance they should be able to complete it on arrival. Guidance on how to self-isolate when you travel to the UK is here.


On 11 June the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs published guidance on using a boat inland and on the coast.

It includes information about privately owned leisure boats, marinas, canoe and paddle craft hire, self-drive boat hire and bareboat charters. Skippered boat hire or tourist boats are still not permitted, along with holiday boat hire with overnight stays. However day hire/charter for single households is now allowed.


On 13 May the Department for Culture, Media and Sport published its guidance on the phased return of sport and recreation in England. It states that recreational marine activities can resume in England. Included is guidance for members of the public and providers of outdoor sports and recreation facilities. The guidance for the public includes advice on water sports (at the end) which it says is now permitted. The guidance for providers of outdoor facilities does not mention marine facilities but does contain useful advice covering cleaning of facilities, maintaining hygiene, precautions for staff, social distancing and also rules for restaurants, car parks and changing rooms, which providers should follow.


On 13 May the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs published guidance on ‘green spaces’. The guidance states: ”all forms of water sports practiced on open waterways, including sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, rowing, kayaking, surfing, paddle-boarding and the use of privately-owned motorised craft (in line with the guidance issued by the relevant navigation authority) are allowed. You can continue to use towpaths for walking, running and cycling, being mindful of other users and people living in boats along the water.”


On 13 May, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs published guidance for the public on the phased return of outdoor sport recreation in England. This guidance includes advice on water sports (at the end) which it says is now permitted, similar to that is given in the Defra Green Spaces advice.


On 13 May, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs published guidance for providers of outdoor facilities on the phased return of sport and recreation in England. This guidance does not mention marine facilities but does contain useful advice covering cleaning of facilities, maintaining hygiene, precautions for staff, social distancing and also rules for restaurants, car parks and changing rooms, which providers should follow.


On 14 May the Department for Transport shared a list of very useful list of FAQs on marine leisure, which were prepared by Defra. These have not been published on the gov.uk site yet but the DfT’s navigational safety team have encouraged us to circulate this to ports as they will help clarify a number of issues. 

Essentially the FAQs say that marina type operations and non-commercial marine leisure activities are able to start, subject to accommodating coronavirus health and safety guidance. The visiting of boats in marinas and sailing is now permitted, subject to local rules. The document does suggest though that it will be for individual marina/facility owners to consider whether they are able to restart their services whilst ensuring the safety of their staff and users. It also gives the option for marina operators and navigation authorities such as ports to use their own rules to control activity.


On 15 May the HM Coastguard asks everyone to take extra care in their press release.

This all means subject to addressing social distancing and other hygiene measures, English ports can open marina, pontoon, mooring and slipway facilities without the risk of contravening government advice on coronavirus.

We are awaiting information on whether guidance may be produced for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales as recreational and sports policy are devolved matters and lockdown restrictions are different.

UK Warehousing Association COVID-19 Emergency Space Register

The UK Warehousing Association (UKWA) has a new initiative to solve the imminent storage issues facing the unitised freight sector. This is particularly in relation containerised cargo following the lockdown and the lack of demand across Britain and Europe.

Following the shutdown in China earlier in the year, a backlog of cargo is being shipped to Europe. As a result of the lockdown here the warehousing and distribution centres are reportedly at 90% capacity.

To deal with the logistics challenge at hand, until businesses, shops and manufacturers are open the UKWA has created an emergency storage registration system. The register shows where current serviced and secure space for pallets and/or containers are available (currently) at various UK locations.



On 18 May the UK Government announced that they are to invest £35m to protect critical freight routes. Further details should be displayed on the Official Journal of the EU shortly.

The routes currently eligible for support are below. They will now be designated as Public Service Obligation routes for a period of up to nine weeks.

  • Portsmouth-Santander
  • Portsmouth-Cherbourg
  • Poole-Bilbao
  • Dover-Dunkerque
  • Dover-Calais
  • Folkestone-Coquelles
  • Cairnryan-Larne
  • Tilbury-Zeebrugge
  • Teesport-Europoort
  • Hull-Europoort
  • Hull-Zeebrugge
  • Heysham-Warrenpoint
  • Rotterdam-Killingholme
  • Cairnryan-Belfast
  • Harwich-Rotterdam
  • Harwich-Hoek van Holland

The Government has signed agreements with six operators to provide an estimated £35 million to ensure there is enough freight capacity to prevent disruption to the flow of goods. These are: Brittany Ferries, DFDS, Eurotunnel, P&O, Seatruck and Stena. The DfT have noted that the actual amounts paid will depend on the actual amount of capacity required and sold in each week. Also routes between GB and Northern Ireland will receive an estimated £5.5 million. The Northern Ireland Executive will contribute 40% of the funding on these routes.

On 24 April the UK Government published details of a multi-million support package to safeguard ferry routes.

This package includes:

The funding will ensure the ongoing supply of critical goods into the country during the COVID-19 pandemic, with up to 31 routes eligible for support, subject to discussions with operators.

The Government’s press release on this suggested that the freight and passenger support package covers seven routes between Great Britain and Northern Ireland; routes to the Isle of Wight; the Penzance-Scilly ferry; and 26 routes between Britain, France, Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Norway and Sweden, including Eurotunnel.

On 27 March the government temporarily suspended competition law to allow ferry operators to work together to maintain a crucial lifeline between the Isle of Wight and the mainland.

The COVID-19 outbreak has significantly reduced demand for the day-to-day services provided by the 3 operators, Hovertravel, Wightlink and Red Funnel. Possible staff absences due to self-isolation and illness are also likely to pose a challenge to keeping these essential ferry services going.

The relaxation of rules under the Competition Act 1998 will help ferry operators to continue to run essential services despite reduced usage during the virus, maintaining a vital route for those who cannot work from home and those needing medical treatment. It will also mean the operators can work together to allow for essential food, freight and medical supplies to be transported between the Isle of Wight and the mainland.


Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020

The new health requirements for people arriving to England including government’s quarantine measures, were announced by the Home Secretary on 22 May and came into force on 8 June.

Travellers will be required to complete a digital contact locator form prior to arrival and UK Border Force will carry out ‘spot checks’ to verify compliance. Those failing to comply could be subject to a penalty of up to £1,000 or denied entry (only non UK nationals or residents). Passengers will also be required to self isolate for 14 days. See guidance for international passenger operating services and maritime operational guidance for border measures in England.

A number of travellers and roles are exempt from the quarantine measures, including passengers travelling from Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man and also road haulage drivers, offshore workers, seamen, masters, pilots, crew and many others.

Similarly, the Welsh Government introduced identical regulations. See regulations, list of exemptions and how to self-isolate when you travel to Wales. 

Also the Scottish Government introduced identical regulations. See guidance, list of exemptions and notification of new travel regulations.

We appreciate this largely won’t effect Welsh and Scottish ports as the international ferry routes would be covered by the exemptions, however the regulations will apply to ship crew if they are leaving the port and any recreational users who travel from other countries who are not included in the common travel area.

UK Government's COVID-19 Recovery Strategy

On 11 May the UK Government published their 50-page COVID-19 recovery strategy along with updated FAQs on what you can and can’t do (see link above). As a reminder, this guidance is only applicable to those in England. The Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments are each responsible for developing their own plans and guidance for easing the lockdown and their leaders have said they would not be following Westminster’s lead and would maintain the present restrictions.

A summary of the key points in the COVID-19 recovery strategy relevant to the ports sector is as follows:


  • Foreword from the Prime Minster: “A mass vaccine or treatment may be more than a year away. In a worst-case scenario, so we may never find a vaccine.”
  • These changes outlined in the strategy apply from Wednesday 13 May in England only.
  • The Government is examining more stringent enforcement measures such as increased fines for non-compliance.
  • The government has committed to increase testing capacity to 200,000 tests per day by the end of May. Baroness Harding has been appointed to lead the COVID-19 Test and Trace Taskforce.
  • In the House of Commons this afternoon, the Prime Minister said the Health & Safety Executive will be enforcing the new guidance documents and will be conducting spot checks.


  • New safety guidelines that set out how each type of physical space can be adopted to operate safely will be released this week. Workplaces should follow these as soon as practicable. For the foreseeable future, workers should continue to work from home rather than their normal physical workplace, wherever possible.
  • All workers who cannot work from home should travel to work if their workplace is open. Sectors of the economy that are allowed to be open should be open, for example this includes food production, construction, manufacturing, logistics, distribution and scientific research in laboratories. The only exceptions to this are those workplaces such as hospitality and nonessential retail which during this first step the Government is requiring to remain closed.
  • The guidance recommends indoor places are to be well ventilated. Evidence suggests that the virus is less likely to be passed on in well-ventilated buildings and outdoors. In good weather, try to leave windows and doors open in places where people from different households come into contact – or move activity outdoors if you can. Use external extractor fans to keep spaces well ventilated and make sure that ventilation systems are set to maximise the fresh air flow rate. Heating and cooling systems can be used at their normal temperature settings.

Public transport and face coverings

  • When travelling everybody (including critical workers) should continue to avoid public transport wherever possible.
  • The Government is now advising that people should aim to wear a face-covering in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible and they come into contact with others that they do not normally meet, for example on public transport or in some shops. Homemade cloth face-coverings can help reduce the risk of transmission in some circumstances. Face-coverings are not intended to help the wearer, but to protect against inadvertent transmission of the disease to others if you have it asymptomatically. Also wearers are recommended to not wear facemasks such as surgical masks which should be used as PPE for healthcare workers and other workers.

Recreational boating

  • As well as exercise, people can now spend time outdoors subject to not meeting up with any more than one person from outside your household; continued compliance with social distancing guidelines to remain two metres (6ft) away from people outside your household; good hand hygiene, particularly with respect to shared surfaces; and those responsible for public places being able to put appropriate measures in place to follow the new COVID-19 Secure guidance.
  • People may exercise outside as many times each day as they wish. For example, this would include angling and tennis. You will still not be able to use areas like playgrounds, outdoor gyms or ticketed outdoor leisure venues, where there is a higher risk of close contact and touching surfaces. You can only exercise with up to one person from outside your household – this means you should not play team sports, except with members of your own household.
  • People may drive to outdoor open spaces irrespective of distance, so long as they respect social distancing guidance while they are there, because this does not involve contact with people outside your household.
  • When travelling to outdoor spaces, it is important that people respect the rules in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and do not travel to different parts of the UK where it would be inconsistent with guidance or regulations issued by the relevant devolved administration.
  • Although recreational sailing is not specifically mentioned we have had a meeting with RYA, British Marine and the UKHMA this afternoon and understand that guidance from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport will be issued this week which should include advice on water sports in England. We will write out separately, shortly on this.

Vulnerable people

  • Those who are clinically vulnerable should continue to take particular care to minimise contact with others outside their households, but do not need to be shielded.
  • Those in the clinically extremely vulnerable group are strongly advised to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact; this is called ‘shielding’ (refer to Annex B of the document for more details).

International visitors

  • International visitors (including British nationals) will be required to supply their contact and accommodation information and strongly advised to download the NHS contact tracing app. Those who are not on the list of exemptions (visitors from France and Ireland, lorry drivers, etc) will be required to self-isolate in their accommodation for 14 days on arrival into the UK, where this is not possible the government will arrange accommodation although it will not cover costs. No further details are given about when these measures will come into force although we expect it to come into effect later this month.

Lifting restrictions

On 23 April the Scottish Government, released a document outlining their criteria for deciding when the restrictions will be lifted.

The document records Scotland’s overall approach to the outbreak, how the government will prepare for the transition, and options available for easing and imposing restrictions.

They also note that even when restrictions are eased, physical distancing, hand hygiene, and other critical behaviours will be essential in each sector for the long term and that they will be engaging with experts in each sector, including transport, to understand the practical consequences.

Similarly, on 24 April the Welsh Government published a framework and seven key questions that will help determine when the restrictions will be relaxed. 

The seven questions are:

  • Would easing a restriction have a negative effect on containing the virus?
  • Does a particular measure pose a low risk of further infection?
  • How can it be monitored and enforced?
  • Can it be reversed quickly if it creates unintended consequences?
  • Does it have a positive economic benefit?
  • Does it have a positive impact on people’s wellbeing?
  • Does it have a positive impact on equality?

A Wales-wide programme of surveillance, case identification, and contact tracing is being developed through the office of the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Frank Atherton. This will highlight the importance of community testing and support the containment of emerging coronavirus infections as and when restrictions are eased.

On 12 May the Northern Ireland Executive published its Coronavirus Recovery Strategy. This includes an outline of a staged approach to move out of the Coronavirus lockdown and towards recovery. The strategy is called the ‘Approach to Decision Making’, which describes how the Executive will use evidence to make decisions and legislation.

The strategy document contains a phased five-stage plan in the form of an infographic, covering work and travel and other activities. This is worth reviewing and at least being aware of what it contains. For completeness the criteria the Executive will use is listed as the ‘most up-to-date scientific evidence; the ability of the health service to cope; and the wider impacts on our health, society and the economy’.

Testing and Tracing

England - anyone who tests positive for coronavirus will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and will need to share information about their recent interactions. This could include household members, people with whom they have been in direct contact, or within 2 metres for more than 15 minutes. People identified as having been in close contact with someone who has a positive test must stay at home for 14 days, even if they do not have symptoms, to stop unknowingly spreading the virus. If those in isolation develop symptoms, they can book a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119. Testing eligibility has been expanded to include children under the age of 5. More details are here and the guidance for employers is here.

Scotland - if anyone has any of the symptoms of COVID-19 they should immediately visit NHS Inform or call 0800 028 2816 if they can’t get online. They will be able to book a test at a mobile testing unit, a drive-through testing centre or order a home testing kit. While they wait for that result, everyone in their household will need to self-isolate. If they test positive, they will need to self-isolate for 7 days, and their household for 14 days. If they get a positive test result they will be asked who they have been in close contact with. This includes people in their household, people they have had direct face to face contact with for any length of time, and those they have been within 2 metres of for 15 minutes or more. More details are here. Guidance has also been published for employers here.

Wales - the Welsh track and trace plan which will come into force on 1 June on a phased basis. Anyone who has been in close contact with those who have tested positive will be required to self-isolate along with their household for 14 days. Anyone is able to access home testing kits via the UK government website and the testing sites in Wales will soon open up to general access, rather than just critical workers. The strategy is here and FAQs are here, an update has also been provided here. Further details on how exactly the tracing will work should be published shortly. Testing eligibility has been expanded to include children under the age of 5.

Northern Ireland - people with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 will be required to self-isolate and get tested. They will be asked to identify close contacts (either via a telephone based service or a web-portal which are both being developed) and they will be required to self-isolate. The Public Health Agency (PHA) re-introduced contact tracing in April and from 18 May PHA have been contact tracing all confirmed cases. The strategy is here and further details about the phone service and web-portal should be available shortly.

On 18 May the UK government announced that everyone in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with coronavirus symptoms can now get tested, rather than just essential/key workers.

Those in England, can either book a test for themselves and their household via a new online portal or the employer can do this on their behalf. For information about testing in Scotland click here. The online booking service will apply to those in England and Scotland only, for more details click here.

In Northern Ireland, employers will be provided with information on how their employees can make an appointment for a test. It will be up to the employer to provide relevant information to their employees should they request a test. More information is here.

In in Wales, as per the key workers testing policy, we understand each Local Resilience Forum has a local referral arrangement in place so they should have been in touch with ports about this.

The Department of Health and Social Care has issued information about how essential workers in England who need a test for coronavirus can get one. Essential workers can now book tests for themselves and their household via a new online portal or the employer can do this on their behalf. The online booking service will apply to those in England and Scotland only, for more details click here.

In Scotland additional key workers who are eligible for testing is based on four different priority groups, which includes those in critical national infrastructure. More information is here. The Scottish Government have published a toolkit that may be helpful when communicating to staff, users and external stakeholders about COVID-19 about the Test and Protect service. There is also a Phase 1 Stakeholder toolkit.

In Northern Ireland, employers will be provided with information on how their employees can make an appointment for a test. It will be up to the employer to provide relevant information to their employees should they request a test. More information is here.

In in Wales, as per the key workers testing policy, we understand each Local Resilience Forum has a local referral arrangement in place so they should have been in touch with you about this. We understand the Welsh Government has scrapped it’s 5,000 per day testing target and has not set a new one.

Working Safely During COVID-19 Guidance

As part of our Port Futures Programme, BPA associate member TT Club have produced a workplace guidance document for UK ports and terminals. It is not designed to replace government guidance, just as a useful tool to use in conjunction with your risk assessments and management plans during the COVID-19 outbreak.


The Working Safely During COVID-19 guidance documents have been published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy for organisations in England. There are eight documents covering:

  • Construction and other outdoor work
  • Factories, plans and warehouses - includes port operations
  • Homes
  • Labs and research facilities
  • Offices and contact centres
  • Restaurants offering takeaway or delivery
  • Shops and branches
  • Vehicles

There is quite a lot of details in these documents, which are very general in nature and relevant for all types of organisations. The use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is addressed in each of the documents and the government is clear that employers should not encourage the use of any additional PPE in a non-clinical setting over what is used regularly, and the risk should be managed through social distancing, hygiene and fixed teams or partnering.

Employees are able to wear face coverings and should be supported in their choice by their employer but should be given clear guidance on how to apply the covering, ie washing of hands before applying and removing.

This guidance operates within current health and safety employment and equalities legislation and states that employers will need to carry out COVID-19 risk assessments in consultation with their workers or trade unions, to establish what guidelines to put in place. If possible, employers should publish the results of their risk assessments on their website and government expect all businesses with over 50 employees to do so.


Separately, the Health and Safety Executive have issued a technical statement on legionnaires and coronavirus. The HSE highlights that employers, premises managers and landlords have a duty to identify and control risks associated with legionella disease developing in standing water if a building or facility has been closed or had reduced occupancy during the coronavirus outbreak.


Separately, the Health and Safety Executive in Northern Ireland has published workplace safety guidance during COVOID-19.


Also the Northern Ireland Department for the Economy has published guidance on making workplaces safer and a list of priority sectors during the current coronavirus crisis.


Health Protection Scotland have published information and guidance for those working in non-healthcare settings. This guidance is to support those working in non-healthcare settings give advice to their staff and users of their services about COVID-19.

This guidance covers:

  • What COVID-19 is and how it is spread
  • Advice on how to prevent spread of all respiratory infections including COVID-19
  • Advice on what to do if someone is ill in a workplace or other non-healthcare setting
  • Advice on what will happen if an individual is being investigated as a possible case or is confirmed as a case of COVID-19

Section 2.11 gives key information for the maritime sector.


The Scottish Government have published retail and manufacturing sector guidance for easing the lockdown and making workplaces safer. Updated guidance for the construction sector has been published, and guidance for other sectors will be available in the coming weeks. The documents have been developed in consultation with business, trade unions and regulators. A ‘safer work places statement’ has also been issued, along with two useful guides from the HSE. Also Transport Scotland have issued advice for the general public on how to travel safely.

On 29 May the Welsh Government has published guidance for employers and employees to keep safe in the workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is part of the suite of information available that gives advice on your responsibilities as an employer. The guidance states ‘The Welsh Government will be producing further in-depth guidance to support a safe return to certain key sectors and providing further information about best practice too.’


Employment implications for UK ports

To further support the UK ports sector, the BPA has asked the ports and maritime law firm Hill Dickinson, an Associate Member of the British Ports Association (BPA), to produce a short paper on the employment implications for UK ports as the shipping industry addresses the global coronavirus pandemic. This paper is part of the BPA’s Port Futures Programme which is a series of papers considering emerging and innovative trends in the port sector. 

As outlined in the paper, the vast majority of those working at UK ports are considered to have ‘key worker’ status which provides an exception to the government’s strict social distancing guidance to stay at home and permits travel for work purposes (where work cannot be performed at home). Like many other sectors who have ‘key workers’, this presents as an unique and unprecedented challenge for all UK ports.

Employers are having to consider which roles can be performed remotely, and where this is not possible, implementing procedures for shift working, social distancing and hand washing, and ensuring adequate PPE is available. Ports have a statutory duty to remain open, where it is safe to do so, but must also ensure the protection of all port users, including visitors, workers and employees. Ports should continue to monitor government advice and take advantage of the various support packages available, whilst also ensuring they are mindful of both their statutory and contractual obligations.



Mark Cranshaw, Hill Dickinson LLP - Mark.Cranshaw@hilldickinson.com
Tony McDonach, Hill Dickinson LLP - Tony.McDonach@hilldickinson.com
Colin Lavelle, Hill Dickinson LLP - Colin.Lavelle@hilldickinson.com

Published 2 April 2020

Definition of 'key workers'

The Prime Minister announced that schools in the UK are to shut from 20 March until further notice as a response to the coronavirus pandemic. All schools will close except for those who looking after the children of ‘key workers and vulnerable children’.

The announcement states:

“If workers think they fall within the critical categories above they should confirm with their employer that, based on their business continuity arrangements, their specific role is necessary for the continuation of this essential public service.

If your school is closed then please contact your local authority, who will seek to redirect you to a local school in your area that your child, or children, can attend.”

England, Wales and Northern Ireland have issued national advice identifying ‘key workers’ which includes those working in the transport sector - “those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID-19 response, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass.”

After speaking to our colleagues at the UK Chamber of Shipping we understand offshore support workers are included in the ‘utilities, communication and financial services’ category.

In Scotland however, no such advice has been issued and it is being left to the 32 local authorities to make a case by case decision on individual businesses and groups of workers.

Advice for employers and employees

As an ‘employer’ you might like to take a look at the below listed websites and also remind employees of good hygiene practices and what symptoms to look out for.

Gov.uk - guidance for employers, businesses and employees, support for businesses, guidance

ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) advice for employers and employees - this includes guidance on self-isolation and sick pay, if someone becomes unwell at work, if you need to close the workplace temporarily, if an employee needs time off work to look after someone

CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personal and Development) - advice for how employers should respond

CBI (Confederation of British Industry) - advice for businesses

FSB (Federation of Small Business) - advice for small businesses

Mind wellbeing

Developing resilience in difficult times

CIPR tips for communicating with employees

• Deloitte - managing supply chain risk and disruption

Government have issued guidance for:

Public Health England have also published a poster displaying guidance for employers and business

Financial support for businesses

On 6 May the government announced today that the rating revaluation has been postponed from April 2021 to April 2022 for those businesses in England. This is to help reduce uncertainty for businesses affected by the impacts of coronavirus.

Despite this the Valuation Office are still working to a deadline of the end of May to produce valuations for the next revaluation, adopting the antecedent valuation date of 1 April 2019. The valuation date is usually 2 years in advance of the revaluation taking place, however there has been no announcement as yet that the valuation date will be changed.


The Government announced on 23 March additional support for businesses and employees through a package of measures during this period of unprecedented disruption.

The Business Support website contains information about the Business Interruption Loan Scheme, Job Retention Scheme, Small Business Grant Funding, Statutory Sick Pay Rebate, Time to Pay Service, Corporate Financing Facility, VAT deferral, and others. 


Specific information for businesses and employers in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales is also available.

Scotland Government have also launched a Find Business Support website. It contains information about sources of finance, business rates and tax, protecting your workforce, business continuity, online webinars and more.

The Scottish Government have announced a new Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund which is available for those who play a critical role in supporting Scotland’s recovery but may need some immediate support to assist with cash flow challenges. This fund was initially for £45m and has doubled to £90m. Detailed guidance is here. This is part of a wider package worth £145m designed to help the newly self-employed; creative, tourism and hospitality companies, and those SMEs who are vital to the local or national economic foundations of Scotland.

The Welsh Government have launched a Business Wales website.

On 10 April the Welsh Government published details about the latest phase of its COVID-19 support available from the £500m Welsh Economic Resilience Fund. This phase includes £200m of funding targeted at microbusinesses, SMEs and large businesses of critical social or economic importance to Wales. To be eligible for this second phase businesses and organisations must meet certain criteria. Initial details are available here and an ‘eligibility checker’ is here.

You may also wish to refer to the Government’s Support for Business guidance and Bank of England’s guidance.

On 25 March the government announced that companies who file accounts with Companies House have been given an additional 3 months to file their accounts, to help them avoid penalties as they deal with the impact of COVID-19. 


On 3 April the Chancellor made additional announcements to support businesses affected by the coronavirus crisis by bolstering business interruption loans for small businesses and announcing a new scheme for larger companies.
• The current loan scheme will be extended so more small businesses can benefit - applications will not be limited to businesses that have been refused a loan on commercial terms, extending the number who benefit. However, the Treasury has not capped the interest rates banks can charge.
• Lenders will be banned from requesting personal guarantees on loans under £250,000
• A new scheme is announced to bolster support for larger firms not currently eligible for loans - Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) - it will provide a government guarantee of 80% to enable banks to make loans of up to £25 million to firms with an annual turnover of between £45-500 million.


On 27 April the Government announced a new scheme for those in need of smaller loans. Businesses can apply for the new Bounce Back Loans up to a maximum of £50,000, or 25% of turnover, with the government paying the interest for the first 12 months.

The loans will be available from 9am on Monday 4 May and the Government will support lending by guaranteeing 100% of the loan. Businesses can apply online by completing a short form and the loan should reach you within days. For more details click here.

Eversheds Sutherland legal update

Each quarter the law firm Eversheds Sutherland, will be producing a short legal update for BPA members. As COVID-19 is very much on the minds of those in the ports sector they thought best to provide members with an overview of government economic support available including the Covid Corporate Financing Facility and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.


Furthermore, Eversheds Sutherland have provided a summary of the cover that may be afforded by common types of commercial insurance policies for coronavirus-related losses and liabilities.


Please note the information contained in these documents was correct at the time of writing, 31 March 2020.

Ban on evictions for commercial tenants

The government announced on 23 March that they are protecting businesses in the wake of COVID-19 with a ban on evictions for commercial tenants who miss rent payments.

These measures, included in the Coronavirus Act 2020, will mean no business will be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment in the next 3 months.

As commercial tenants will still be liable for the rent after this period, the government reports that they are actively monitoring the impact on commercial landlords’ cash flow and continue to be in dialogue with them.

The change will last until 30 June, with an option for the government to extend if needed. It applies  to commercial tenants in EnglandWales and Northern Ireland


On 23 April the UK Government announced the introduction of the new Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill which contains additional provisions that landlords of commercial properties should note.

The new Bill has not been laid in Parliament yet so we are yet to review the detail but the Government’s press release it will protect “companies under strain” from “aggressive” rent collection practices. The main focus of the press statement is on high street shops but the changes are applicable to other businesses as well.

The gov.uk site suggests that some landlords have been putting commercial tenants under undue pressure by using aggressive debt recovery tactics. Therefore the new Bill means there will be a temporary ban the use of statutory demands and winding up orders where a company cannot pay their bills due to coronavirus.

This means that legal petitions or winding-up orders cannot be made where the company’s inability to pay is the result of COVID-19. Furthermore the measures require that any winding-up petition that claims that a company is unable to pay its debts must first be reviewed in court to determine why.

The UK Government is also laying secondary legislation to provide tenants with more breathing space to pay rent by preventing landlords using Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR) procedures, unless they are owed at least 90 days of unpaid rent.

We understand this legislation applies to England and Wales and that the arrangements in Northern Ireland are expected to follow these arrangements closely but we have not had any indication that the Scottish Government will follow suit. The new arrangements will be in force until 30 June, but this can be extended in line with the moratorium on commercial lease forfeiture.


UK MCA Vessel survey inspections

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), in line with Government advice on the COVID-19 outbreak, is to stop all domestic survey and inspection activity with immediate effect.

The MCA recently produced a Maritime Information Note (MIN 612 - see below) which provides advice to industry on how they hope to assist in keeping the maritime sector moving.

They will be following the advice in this note and would encourage the same of other organisations. We understand that some small workboat / pilot boat surveys are still being undertaken by independent surveyors. However, the MCA are offering compliance exemptions and certificate extensions until normal service can be resumed.


VTS Centres and Operators

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has circulated a note that provides guidelines on Refresher Training and Revalidation in the wake of COVID-19. Please note that the measures highlighted in this note remain contingent on the VTS Operator meeting the specified requirements.


The MCA also issued a notice to all Port and VTS Authorities, VTS Personnel, Masters and Deck Officers of Merchant Vessels, and Skippers and Watch Keepers of Fishing and Recreational Craft. regarding the functionality of the service types by a VTS Authority during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The MCA recognise that when implementing the “social distance” measures being advised by Government, VTS authorities may not be able to fully discharge their declared functions. The note provides guidance for the interim extenuating circumstances, to ensure a continued level of safety of shipping, maritime users, members of the public and the protection of the marine environment, where a VTS authority may need to reduce or otherwise downgrade one or more of its services.


Marine Management Organisation contact details

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) is working to continue to provide its services during the unfolding events around the Covid-19 pandemic.

Their aim in these unprecedented times is to continue to support the industry and help it to keep fishing and trading, and be ready to recover when the time comes.
In line with the Government’s instructions, MMO staff are now working from home. But they can be contacted for all MMO services, including handling of applications to the Maritime and Fisheries Fund, in several ways – online, email, by phone, social media or via our website. All of their contact details can be found at www.marinemanagement.org.uk

Like all parts of UK life, the MMO know fishing has already been disrupted. To assist industry stakeholders, the MMO have put together a “one stop shop” guide to signpost the support that has been announced so far to assist businesses and individuals which they hope will be of help for now.



Certifications and MCA Marine Offices

Re-booking oral exams

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) is now starting to re-book oral exams that were cancelled and will be prioritising those who need their Certificate of Competency to start working.


Boatmaster Licenses

The MCA is providing a temporary extension for all boastmaster licenses which expire during this period affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. BMLs that expired from the 1st March 2020 will be accepted as valid up until 30 September 2020.


Extensions to Oil Spill Response Certifications

The MCA have provided the below update:

“Due to the COVID-19 and the need to limit personal contact, the ability to undertake UK Accredited Spill Response training courses (MCA 1/2/3/4/5P and OPEP 2,3,4) is highly constrained.

This situation is likely to last for several months and in that time individual’s Spill Response training certificates may expire with little or no opportunity to attend refresher courses.

Given this, approval has been given such that all Spill Response training certificates at MCA 1/2/3/4/5 (including Ports) and OPEP 2,3,4 levels that are due to expire before 30th June 2020 will remain valid until at least that date.

Further extensions may be needed depending on the wider consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak, and when normal training can resume. The MCA, Nautical Institute and BEIS/OPRED will continue to review the situation.”

Oil spill exercises

Following discussions within MCA Exec and with OPRED and the Nautical Institute, the MCA has extended all MCA 1/2/3/4/5 (including Ports) and OPEP 2,3,4 training certificates until 30 June.

Given the national lock-down policy MCA has also agreed an amnesty on all T1 and 2 exercising until 30 June initially, as this would involve personal interaction and external contractors for T2.

Marine offices

The MCA has now put in place contingency plans to mitigate disruption to essential delivered services as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. Due to protective measures adopted by MCA to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, Marine Offices are closed and that staff are working remotely. Email contacts are best and can be viewed here.

Guidance for freight transport industry

This exceptional advice has been issued because the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has led to unprecedented international border closures and other restrictions.

International and domestic freight transport (including by air, ship, road and rail, including roll-on/roll-off transports) is classified by UK government as an essential activity in the context of its travel advice. The advice against non-essential travel is not intended to apply to international and domestic freight transport.


On 2 April Michael Matheson, MSP and Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure & Connectivity, wrote a letter for the use of the Road Haulage Association (RHA) for distribution to their members, following alerts of a lack of handwashing facilities for freight drivers.

The letter notes that the required frequency of handwashing has increased due to the COVID-19 outbreak and is key to avoiding the spread of the virus amongst freight drivers. which will, in turn, mitigate the impact of Coronavirus on businesses in Scotland. Mr Matheson implores businesses to ensure they facilitate freight drivers and other workers to access toilet and handwashing facilities.

Separately, in order to curb non-essential travel, all those driving to France, including freight operators, must from now on complete an ‘International Attestation’ form (which is in English) to confirm that their journey meets the criteria for ‘essential travel’. This is a new requirement introduced by the French authorities in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The DfT have flagged this to hauliers, both directly via a DVSA Direct email to all haulage and passenger transport operators and via the major trade associations. FCO colleagues have tweeted about it here, which the Department has amplified via its Twitter feed. 

The new form announced for use from Monday 6 April (18.00) replaces the former one which was filled by the driver - but the second form: the professional travel waiver certificate (justificatif de déplacement professionnel) still has to be filled in and signed by the employer (i.e. the driver’s manager). 3 forms attached here – the original form in English & French, and the new form in English.

Guidance on cruise ship travel

Guidance for British people about cruise ship holidays, with specific advice for people aged 70 and over and people with health conditions


Guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers, end-point assessment organisations and external quality assurance providers

This document sets out guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers and assessment organisations in response to the impact of COVID-19. It outlines the changes that the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is making to the apprenticeship programme during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Furloughed apprentices can continue with their learning.

The Government’s rules on furloughing say: A furloughed employee can take part in volunteer work or training, as long as it does not provide services to or generate revenue for, or on behalf of your organisation. However, if workers are required to for example, complete online training courses whilst they are furloughed, then they must be paid at least the NLW/NMW for the time spent training, even if this is more than the 80% of their wage that will be subsidised.


Guidance for Cleaning in Non-healthcare Settings

What you need to know

  • Cleaning an area with normal household disinfectant after someone with suspected coronavirus (COVID-19) has left will reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people
  • Wherever possible, wear disposable or washing-up gloves and aprons for cleaning. These should be double-bagged, then stored securely for 72 hours then thrown away in the regular rubbish after cleaning is finished
  • Using a disposable cloth, first clean hard surfaces with warm soapy water. Then disinfect these surfaces with the cleaning products you normally use. Pay particular attention to frequently touched areas and surfaces, such as bathrooms, grab-rails in corridors and stairwells and door handles
  • If an area has been heavily contaminated, such as with visible bodily fluids, from a person with coronavirus (COVID-19), consider using protection for the eyes, mouth and nose, as well as wearing gloves and an apron
  • Wash hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds, and after removing gloves, aprons and other protection used while cleaning


COVID-19 personal protective equipment and face-coverings

On 4 June the Transport Secretary announced that all passengers in England traveling on transport networks (buses, trains, ferries and planes) must wear a face-covering (such as a scarf, not a mask) to limit the possible transmission of coronavirus. This comes into effect immediately and will be mandatory from 15 June. Some exemptions were given which include children, disabled passengers and those with breathing difficulties. Passengers will only be required to wear face-coverings on the mode of transport, not before or after the journey. For ferry customers this includes not having to wear a face-covering while in their own vehicle.

As outlined in the guidance, there has been no change to government advice in regards to face masks guidance, ie they are not recommended for use out in the community.


On 10 April the Department of Health and Social Care published the cross-Government UK-wide Plan on personal protective equipment (PPE). The Plan outlines the use of PPE was on most need use in health care settings. For all other workers and sectors the Plan suggests “based on current evidence, there is very little scientific evidence of widespread benefit from PPE”.

The Plan highlights that the main priority will be frontline healthcare services. However it includes a short section on Local Resilience Forums in England and Wales and their equivalents in Northern Ireland and Scotland. In England, as an example, the Plan suggests a further 34 million PPE items, including aprons, gloves and masks had been authorised for LRFs last week but quite how these will be allocated between the emergency services and other bodies (such as ports) within LRFs remains to be seen.


A useful website that brings together users and suppliers of PPE is the PPE Exchange.

Reduced Service on BBC Radio 4 Weather Bulletins

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) is responsible in the UK for broadcasting maritime safety information (MSI). On 1 April the MCA reported that the UK marine weather service will change for the foreseeable future. From 30 March the BBC Radio 4 weather bulletins will be broadcast as follows:

  • 00:48 LW, FM Gale Warnings, Shipping Forecast, weather reports from coastal stations and the Inshore Waters Forecast
  • 05:33 LW, FM Gale Warnings, Shipping Forecast, weather reports from coastal stations and the Inshore Waters Forecast
  • 12:00 (weekdays only) LW, FM Gale Warnings, Shipping Forecast
  • 18:00 (weekends only) LW, FM Gale Warnings, Shipping Forecast

Please do amplify this message to your users where possible.


Marlin SmartPort – Port Management Solution Free Trial

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With the current global pandemic, work is required to be performed remotely, where possible, while the maritime industry still needs to keep vital supplies moving. The Marlin SmartPort solution has been specifically designed to share key information and, as a cloud-based solution, can be fully deployed with zero footprint. To reduce pressure created by remote working, Marlin SmartPort enables you to share key port call information online with your Port Community.

ION recognises the difficulty in the Port sector operations and finances during this unprecedented time. To assist you, ION is offering a trial of Marlin SmartPort, entirely free of charge, for up to 90 days.


Coronavirus Act 2020

The Coronavirus Act 2020 received Royal Ascent on 25 March .

It provides:

• New laws to protect public health, increase NHS capacity, strengthen social care and support the public to take the right action at the right time
• Additional employment protections and compensation for those volunteering in health and social care
• Highly skilled health and care staff will be protected where they go above and beyond their day-to-day duties or return to the frontline as part of mass mobilisation

The policy paper stated that measures in the Act are temporary, proportionate to the threat we face, will only be used when strictly necessary and be in place for as long as required to respond to the situation. They are intended to protect life and the nation’s public health and ensure NHS and social care staff are supported to deal with significant extra pressure on the health system.

For ports:

In order to ease the burden on frontline staff, both within the NHS and beyond, the Act:

Enables the Home Secretary to request that port and airport operators temporarily close and suspend operations if Border Force staff shortages result in a real and significant threat to the UK’s border security. This is to ensure the UK can maintain adequate border security throughout the pandemic and protect the public from the threat of criminality or importation of prohibited items that could result from an inadequately controlled border. This would only be used in extremis, where necessary and proportionate, and any direction will be kept to the minimum period necessary to maintain the security of the UK border.

Clause 50 and Schedule 20, provides powers to suspend port operations.



The Home Office have also issued a short guidance note.


EU Commission and 'green lane' border crossings

On 23 March the EU Commission released an important document which stresses that all EU internal borders (including UK) should stay open to freight and that the supply chains for essential products must be guaranteed. These “green lanes” should be open for freight only and going through the crossing should only take max 15 minutes.




Online security

The Home Office has issued some new UK-wide guidance on ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice on how to protect yourself and your business from fraud and cyber crime.


The Home Office also issued new online guidance for companies maintaining their compliance with modern slavery reporting during the coronavirus situation.

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 requires certain larger businesses (criteria is in section 54) to publish an annual modern slavery statement setting out the steps they have taken to identify and address their modern slavery risks and the Government is keen that employers continue this despite the surrounding pressures. This is UK-wide legislation.

The new guidance suggests some workers may be more vulnerable to modern slavery during the coronavirus pandemic and employers and suppliers should continue to be vigorous. It also suggests Businesses should use their next statement to demonstrate how they monitored their risks during this period and adapted their activities and priorities in response.


The National Cyber Security Centre has launched guidance on how to stay secure during the pandemic as more people spend time online and work remotely - Guidance on cyber security for video conferencingNCSC’s Cyber Aware hub NCSC’s security campaign launch

Useful external websites

  • Gov.uk number of coronavirus (Covid-19) cases and risk in the UK

  • Latest information and advice from the Health & Safety Executive

  • The EU’s Health Gateways programme have published updated advice for those points of entry in the EU and EEA. To join their mailing list click here.

  • The European Maritime Safety Agency has created a single point of reference which lists the measures introduced by each Member States

  • The ship management company Wihelmsen has produced a global map showing port restrictions due to the Coronavirus

  • Similarly, the insurance company North have published a list of measures some countries, ports and other organisations have put in place

  • The Cruise Lines International Association (the global cruise industry association) continues to provide guidance to the international cruise sector

  • The World Health Organization’s advice on the coronavirus

Economic activity and port trade figures

On 8 June the BPA, alongside analysts at Port Centric Logistics Partners (PCLP), have published a snapshot of economic activity and port trade figures, which you may find useful. The snapshot looks in detail at food and essentials, manufacturing, construction, energy and fishing sectors.

Trade Snapshot:

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is only just beginning to be revealed in figures, but there are signs of recovery on the horizon for certain sectors, according to analysis published by the British Ports Association (BPA) and specialist analysts Port Centric Logistics Partners Ltd (PCLP), today.

Economic figures do not yet show the full extent of the downturn. Though with the publishing of Q1 2020 economic data, the darkness is now receding on the anticipated initial impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. With the recent news that UK GDP has fallen by 2% in terms of volume in the first quarter of this year, the greatest fall since Q4 2008, the overall economic outlook for all UK industries appears bleak.

However, with governments making plans for the safe re-opening of the UK economy, blue skies could be on the horizon. Ports are important regional employers, both directly and indirectly so any downturn can have negative impacts on certain communities. That said the continued health control measures designed to limit future spikes, such as the new quarantining rules, are sure to slow the economic recovery.

Now, as many sectors look to establish a path to recovery, the BPA and analysts at Port Centric Logistics Partners (PCLP) have prepared a snapshot of economic activity and port trade figures. Commercial advisory firm for the global ports and logistics industries, PCLP is a partner of the BPA and assists with regular industry economic monitoring and reporting.


The Scottish Government’s Chief Economist produces a monthly economic briefing, which provides a summary of the latest key economic statistics, forecasts and analysis on the Scottish economy.

The June release has offered further insight on the impacts that COVID-19 is having on the economy and indicates what the path to recovery may look like in Scotland. Some key headlines from the report are:

  • Economic output may not recover to pre-crisis levels until the start of 2023. Economic modelling suggests a longer recovery phase is increasingly likely given the loss of productive capacity and the change in market conditions for many sectors.
  • The unemployment rate is estimated to be 7%, up from 4.1% pre-Coronavirus in Q1 and could increase to more than 10% this year, though this is still contained by the Job Retention Scheme.
  • Economic activity is expected to pick up in the coming months as businesses prepare for the gradual reopening of the economy. However, significant uncertainty in the economic outlook remains.


We contacted Drewry, an independent maritime research consultancy, to see if they have any insights on the impact of the Coronavirus on the port and container sector. While they haven’t done anything for the wider passenger or cargo sector, they have produced some data on the container sector which may be of interest.


Published 3 March 2020.

Shared Guidance from China for the international shipping industry

China has shared with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) its experiences in dealing with the coronavirus in order to help the international shipping industry overcome the many challenges faced.

While it primarily gives recommendations to shipowners and seafarers, it does suggest how to respond when suspected COVID-19 cases are identified at a port and during a voyage (sections 4.1-4.9), and what PPE should be worn when coming into contact with outsiders (eg pilots) and shore-based staff (sections 2.1, 2.3, 2.4), which may be of interest to the ports industry.


Guidance for Ship Operators for the Protection of the Health of Seafarers

The International Chamber of Shipping have prepared a guidance document for the international shipping industry in relation to Covid-19. Although it doesn’t particularly give any information about the ports sector, it does give a good overview of what the shipping community are doing to prepare.


Hill Dickinson paper on the coronavrius and its potential implications on the UK ports sector

As the implications of the Coronavirus become clear, ports and maritime law firm Hill Dickinson, an Associate Member of the British Ports Association, published a short paper on the virus and its potential implications on the UK ports sector as part of the BPA’s Port Futures Programme. 

As outlined in the paper, a port with a quarantined ship or ships alongside is at risk of being designated an unsafe port. Where relevant, UK ports should familiarise themselves with the rights and responsibilities contained within charterparties, as the charterers are under an obligation to nominate a safe port, and the shipowners must go there regardless of whether there is an unacceptable risk or the port is known to be unsafe. Ports should also ensure they are familiar with the force majeure clauses in their standard terms and conditions, and that these provide adequate cover for business interruption resulting from the widest permissible variety of scenarios.


Tony McDonach, Hill Dickinson LLPTony.McDonach@hilldickinson.com
Colin Lavelle, Hill Dickinson LLPColin.Lavelle@hilldickinson.com

Published 19 February 2020

‘Stay at home’ video plea from healthcare workers

A video has been created by a number of medical professionals explaining the importance of staying home. Although it is Belfast based medics we thought this was an important message and a very touching video that you might like to share more widely with your contacts and on social media.


Coronavirus Action Plan

The Coronavirus Action Plan set out what the health and social care system across the UK has done to tackle the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, and what it plans to do next. It includes information on:

  • What government know about the virus and the disease it causes
  • How government have planned for an infectious disease outbreak, such as the current coronavirus outbreak
  • The actions government have taken so far in response to the current coronavirus outbreak
  • What government are planning to do next, depending upon the course the current coronavirus outbreak takes
  • The role the public can play in supporting this response, now and in the future