The Health Ministry on Tuesday released additional measures for seasonal agricultural workers as part of efforts to curb the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak.
According to the statement, seasonal workers will be checked for symptoms and fevers before starting their travel. Those who have symptoms will not be allowed to set off and will be sent to a health facility to be tested for the virus.
Seasonal workers without symptoms or fevers will wear masks during their travel, also abiding by general COVID-19 travel rules implemented for buses and air transportation.
There are also rules set for places where seasonal workers will work. Accordingly, when they arrive in areas where they will stay, provincial or district security departments should be informed. Also, interaction between seasonal workers and people living nearby should be cut off.
Seasonal workers are expected to wear masks when social distancing is not possible and select a representative to provide daily needs for all the workers living together. While they shop, both shoppers and the representative should observe social distancing and personal hygiene, and they must wear masks.
Every year thousands of agricultural workers from the east and southeast, together with their families, migrate to the agricultural regions of the country for the plantation, irrigation, hoeing and harvesting seasons, which usually start in April and last for up to nine months. Workers and their families often experience challenges while moving around the country in pursuit of jobs, from using unsafe and overcrowded vehicles for their transport to having limited access to health care services. The biggest challenge facing workers this year, however, is the spread of the novel coronavirus and how they will continue traveling during the outbreak.
There are also some responsibilities set for employers in the statement. Accordingly, employers should provide transportation for worker’s representatives, who are tasked to provide workers’ daily needs, and also are expected to arrange shuttles from the accommodatation areas of workers to their workplace. Employers have an obligation also to deliver an adequate number of masks to the accommodation areas and provide for workers’ daily water needs, 15-40 liters (4-10.5 gallons) per person.