The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented crew change crisis, impacting upon hundreds of thousands of seafarers, with some approaching two years stuck at sea. There is real concern that, under new restrictions, the situation will worsen rather than improve.
Seafarers are frontline workers in the maritime industry that carries 90% of global trade. They are, therefore, critical in keeping nations supplied with vital goods. Increasingly in 2021, this will include vaccine doses, personal protective equipment and syringes, to inoculate populations and defeat the virus.
In a letter to Heads of State and Government of EU Member States, the ETF and ECSA today called on EU Member States to ensure that seafarers are designated as key workers in all EU Member States and given priority access to COVID-19 vaccines. Moreover, they called for EU leaders to continue to acknowledge the needs of seafarers by ensuring that any enhanced national restrictive measures provide for exemptions for seafarers and maritime personnel.