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The toll of travel restrictions

11 March 2021

Dear Editors,

The pandemic is proving to be a trial for us all, and geoscientists are no exception.

Many geoscientists depend on overseas work for their livelihoods, but the travel restrictions imposed by the British Government have made it difficult to travel, and more particularly, to return home after stints working abroad. Costs of £1,750 related to the ten-day isolation period upon return to the UK are prohibitive for some people. Additionally, many people work for companies that are not based in the UK. We have to compete with non-British geologists for contracts and feel unable to pass these costs on to our clients.

Furthermore, exploration geologists tend to work in remote parts of the world, in rural areas with low population density, so likely present a lower infection risk compared to those working in densely populated urban areas.

To be clear, I do not condone taking a liberal attitude to Coronavirus—geoscientists must take precautions. However, to establish a vibrant post-pandemic world, geoscientists working on exploration, extraction and construction projects globally will need to travel unhindered.

Given these considerations, I believe that some geological professions should be considered a special case, exempt from travel bans.

David M. Pollard


David M. Pollard is a Supervising Exploration Geologist at Groupe GMIA Minerals


Florence Bullough, Head of Policy and Engagement, Geological Society of London, writes in response:

The latest travel guidance (see the Government website here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-declaration-form-for-international-travel) allows for travel for work and research purposes, where it is not reasonably possible to complete that work within the UK (last updated 29th March).

The vast majority of destinations do not fall under the red list quarantine procedures. On that basis, as per the most recent updates to the travel guidance, it seems that geologists can carry out international work reasonably unimpeded.

The Society will continue to watch for Government updates on this topic.

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