COVID-19: Travel quarantine exemption granted for seasonal poultry workers

29 November 2021

The NFU has been working with the government and industry to find a solution to concerns that migrant seasonal poultry workers would face travel restrictions this year because of coronavirus.

Following extensive lobbying and a detailed submission of evidence from the NFU, the government has announced that an exemption to allow seasonal poultry workers to travel to England without facing full travel restrictions is now in force.

From 22 September 2021, seasonal poultry workers arriving in England may work at their designated farm or processing plant during the quarantine period. Outside of working, and travelling in a Covid-19-secure manner between accommodation and work, workers must self-isolate in line with quarantine restrictions.

The Government has announced that the rules for travellers will change in response to the concerns over the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and that from 4am, Tuesday 7 December all people aged 12 years and over must take a PCR or LFD COVID-19 test before they travel to England from abroad. The pre-departure test must be taken in the 2 days before the service to England departs.

All seasonal poultry workers will need a negative pre-departure test – there are no exemptions for these workers, regardless of their vaccination status. There is no change to the post arrival tests that are needed for these types of workers.

The Government travel guidance has already been updated to confirm this and contains detailed guidance. It is important to ensure that you check the official Government website regularly as travel rules are frequently changing and often at short notice in response to the pandemic.

Quarantine and testing rules for travellers will depend on their vaccination status and which country they are arriving from.

NFU turkey group chair Michael Bailey said:

“The NFU welcomes the addition of seasonal poultry workers to the list of jobs that qualify for coronavirus travel exemptions. We’re pleased that government has recognised the invaluable role seasonal poultry workers contribute to farm businesses preparing for the festive period to ensure we can all enjoy our traditional Christmas dinner.

“This timely exemption offers a practical solution to allow these much-needed workers to undertake key roles on farms and in processing facilities, and industry will continue to follow government guidance to help protect the health and safety of its staff.”

Important factors to consider:

  • Employers should check the latest rules for travellers arriving in England before workers set off from their home countries. Guidance is available on the government website (please note this is general advice and not specific to seasonal poultry workers).
  • Workers must not travel to England if they are unwell or have coronavirus symptoms. If they develop symptoms whilst traveling, they should alert the crew on the plane, boat, or train (or driver if travelling by coach or bus). They will inform the staff at the port of arrival who will give further instructions.
  • Workers should establish whether they qualify as fully vaccinated. Further guidance is available on which provides information on proving vaccination status.
  • Before the worker travels to England under this scheme they will need to complete the passenger locator form in the 48 hours before they arrive in England.
  • Seasonal Poultry workers must present their visa confirming that they are travelling under the Seasonal worker pilot scheme or provide documentation confirming their EU settled or pre-settled status. You must also ensure that workers have a letter or email confirming that they have travelled to England to carry out seasonal poultry work at your farm. Read guidance on what you will need to show when you arrive at the UK border.
  • Whilst in England regular rapid lateral flow tests should be taken in accordance with the current Government Guidance for seasonal Poultry workers. (This is separate to any testing required due to international travel).

For information on working safely during Coronavirus please see Working safely during coronavirus: advice on making your business 'COVID-19 secure'.

Defra's guidance on coming to the UK for seasonal agricultural work can be found here.

Government advice on making your business COVID-secure can be found here.

Additional information for employers about testing for coronavirus can be found in our COVID-19 advice for employers.

The Government has issued general Guidance for the public on Coronavirus: how to stay safe and help prevent the spread.

Arrival in the UK from a ‘Red list’ Country

Workers who are fully vaccinated

Workers who are not fully vaccinated

  • Before a worker who is not fully vaccinated travels to England they will need to: take a COVID-19 test in the 2 days before their service to England departs. and complete the passenger locator form in the 48 hours prior to arrival in England. Additional information must be completed on the form.
  • Seasonal workers who are not fully vaccinated and arrive in the UK must go straight to the farm and somebody from the farm should collect them from the airport, port or station wherever possible. The worker must self-isolate for their first 10 days in England. They will need to stay at the address provided in the passenger locator form. They must not leave the farm (if living on the farm) or their accommodation during the first 10 days except to travel to and from work, or if there’s an emergency. Please see Government Guidance for further details.
  • The worker should be put into a group that they will live and work with.   For the first 10 days the worker should keep 2 metres apart from anyone outside their group.
  • Employers should arrange for groceries, other shopping, or medication to be delivered during the isolation period.
  • The worker must take lateral flow test on or before the end of days 2, 5 and 8 after their arrival. If any of these tests are positive, they must take a PCR test.
  • If they are working at a processing site this means they must stay at the accommodation attached to the processing site or alternative accommodation and enter the address on the Passenger Locator Form.

It is important to ensure that you check the position on a regular basis to ensure that you are aware of the most up to date information available on

The information on this page is based on the information available on the website at the time of writing and cannot take account of any subsequent developments. The NFU can take no responsibility for any consequences arising from individual circumstances which cannot be fully accounted for in this article.

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