You will be aware that we requested quarantine exemptions for data centre staff and the DCMS team successfully achieved this on our behalf. There is a bespoke clause in the legislation which was laid on Wednesday:
DCMS has also kindly provided guidance and a template letter. The clause is worded broadly and the intention is to ensure it can be interpreted by operators in a way that allows them to ensure continuity of service, whether business or operations. As I read it, it is not limited to emergency repairs because operators need to protect themselves from future outages which would include statutory and scheduled maintenance, audits, commissioning visits and ensuring adequate capacity, etc. Over-prescription tends to lead to unintended consequences so it is for you as operators to interpret it in a way that enables you to protect business continuity both now and looking ahead. If that sounds too hazy then do get in touch. Meanwhile, here is the official guidance:
Data infrastructure operators can continue to access essential maintenance from overseas, which is exempt from the new quarantine requirements, as laid out in The Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) Regulations 2020, and outlined in guidance published to GOV.UK.
This exemption relates to:
35.—(1) A person who has travelled to the United Kingdom for the purposes of their work in essential infrastructure industries including—
(a) a person involved in essential maintenance and repair of data infrastructure required to reduce and resolve outages, or in the provision of goods and services to support these activities,
In practice, this will mean that specialist engineers and persons involved in essential maintenance travelling from overseas to carry out critical works and break fixes will be granted access to the UK without a 14-day quarantine requirement. Any such workers will be free to travel but must continue to adhere to guidance for employers and businesses, including by complying with social distancing and implementing staggered processes.
While visiting the UK workers must follow the same rules as people who live in the UK, even when exempt from self-isolating. Check the rules for the nation you’re staying in:
You will not need to fill in the form or self-isolate for 14 days if you’re travelling to the UK from:
- the Channel Islands
- the Isle of Man