Don’t forget maritime: ports keen to explore options for testing at borders

Responding to the Transport Secretary’s statement in the House of Commons today the British Ports Association’s Chief Executive, Richard Ballantyne has made the following statement:

“We welcome moves to explore how international travel might be made more feasible but are keen that testing should be part of the solution.
Although we recognise the high number of aviation passenger movements, we are keen that maritime travel is not forgotten. Cruise, recreational sailing and in particular ferry travel are important to many regions, however with recent restrictions such activities have been hit particularly hard.

The maritime sector kept the country supplied during the Coronavirus lockdown but we now need to look at how international travel might be encouraged and sustained. Although we understand why the quarantine rules have been introduced they have hit us badly. Jobs and businesses in the travel industry need a change in approach to help them survive. We are living in a new era so we need to adapt to the circumstances.

As with the calls from the aviation sector, we are keen to explore how testing can be used to enable travel in a way that avoids quarantining, whilst providing the government and the public with the confidence they need. Testing has been used in other parts of the world so let’s look at what we can do in the UK.

An obvious challenge is how the processes might be introduced of course. Whilst typically aviation passengers are on foot, the majority of maritime travellers use vehicles that move via ferries. This means we would need a pragmatic solution to maintain operations at ports, should testing be introduced.”

The British Ports Association represents 86% port traffic including all the UK’s international passenger ports. In the case of ferry travel often passenger movements supplement freight services making them more viable for carriers to operate.