The outbreak of coronavirus and the declaration of a global pandemic was bad timing for Bogusław. Although his contract had just finished, borders were suddenly closed and international travel was restricted, leaving him stranded thousands of miles away from his loved ones in Szczecin, northern Poland. The immediate problem wasn’t just getting home, but also getting his replacement out to sea to take over the job.
"The company crewing department had to extend my contract, preliminary for one month and later for another one, and finally until end of June."
Passport and seaman’s book © Bogusław, 2020
A lifeline for those out at sea
Many European citizens who travel for work have been faced with unprecedented situations throughout the crisis. This is why the EU has adapted its travel rules to help citizens in need.
The EU worked with the International Maritime Organisation and the International Labour Organisation to allow seafarers to come back home as soon as their employment ends.
Not only will this help the 600,000 workers on European ships, but also the 1.5 million seafarers worldwide when they dock at European ports.
Most EU ports now have the facility to enable crew changes so that there’s always a replacement available for seafarers finishing their tour. Sailors have been designated as essential workers to facilitate their transit to and from ports. And they are also exempt from quarantine rules so they can be quickly reunited with their families.
"I flew from New Orleans to Berlin via Atlanta and Amsterdam, and travelled to Szczecin by car. I arrived home on 27 June, where I was finally reunited with my wife and young daughter"
Bogusław at the airport © Bogusław, 2020
Calm after the storm
This intervention from the EU has helped some families withstand the pandemic, but has also been vital for protecting Europe’s economy. The easy rotation of seafarers means the shipping can continue uninterrupted during a crisis. This is critical as 75% of external EU trade and 30% of goods transported inside the Union move via the sea. Together, we can find ways out of the crisis and recover stronger for the future.