Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services
In line with changes being made in the rest of the UK, I have agreed to make the following changes to the requirements for international travel:
- Remove the remaining seven countries from the red list
- Add an additional 35 countries to the list of countries whose vaccinations and certifications we recognise for international travel.
These changes will be introduced from 4 am on Monday 1 November. Some technical changes to the passenger information requirements and private test provider obligations to notify Public Health Wales about test results will also be made.
Changes to the testing requirements for all fully-vaccinated travellers arriving in Wales, which we have previously announced, will come into force from 4 am on Sunday 31 October.
All adults in Wales, who have completed their two-dose course of the Covid-19 vaccine and the majority of under 18s, who have travelled from countries which are not on the red list, will be able to take a lateral flow test, on or before day two of their arrival into the UK, instead of a PCR test.
If people have a positive lateral flow test on their return from travelling overseas, they will be required to isolate for 10 days and take a follow-up PCR test.
We have consistently urged the UK Government to take a precautionary approach towards reopening international travel but it has decided to push ahead. We remain concerned about this approach and the speed with which international travel is being opened up, at a time when cases of coronavirus are increasing at home and abroad.
These changes are not without risk – the UK’s Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE) has advised the evolution of a vaccine escape variant is “almost certain”, and the risk of increased clinical severity is a “realistic possibility”.
We are also concerned about the UK Government’s many decisions to change the border health measures, which are important protections to prevent the risk of new cases – and new variants of coronavirus – from entering the UK.
However, it is difficult for Wales to adopt different arrangements to those required by the UK Government, as the majority of Welsh travellers enter the UK through ports and airports in England.
Having different requirements would cause significant practical problems, confusion among the travelling public, logistical issues, enforcement at our borders and disadvantages for Welsh businesses.
The pandemic is not over. It is for this reason that our advice continues to be to encourage people to only travel overseas for essential reasons.