Wales introduces similar approach to England and Scotland for restart of international travel

Similar to the system implemented in England and Scotland, Wales has introduced a traffic light system for those intending to travel internationally.

Wales follows England and Scotland in restart of international travel

As part of the changes to Wales’ coronavirus regulations from 17 May 2021, people living in Wales will be able to travel to some overseas destinations without the need to quarantine upon their return. However, additional safeguards will be put in place to help to prevent new cases of coronavirus being imported into the country.

A traffic lights system, aligned with those implemented in England and Scotland, will be introduced. Countries will be classified as green, amber or red depending on their rates of COVID-19 cases.

Mandatory quarantine is in place for all travellers returning to the UK from countries on the amber and red lists. All travellers returning from overseas travel will be required to have a PCR test.

The First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, said: “Wales, like other parts of the UK, will be restarting international travel. But protecting people’s health continues to be our top priority, and we want to do everything that we can to prevent coronavirus from being re-imported into Wales.”

“This will not be like travel in the past. Everyone travelling abroad will have to have a test when they come home and, for many people, they will need to quarantine when they get home. There are significant fines in place for those who do not follow the legal requirements. Some countries are not yet opening up travel to people from the UK. It’s my strong advice that this is the year to stay at home and enjoy all that Wales has to offer,” he added.

Under the international travel rules:

  • People arriving from ‘green list’ countries are not required to quarantine upon their return to Wales, but they must book and pay for a mandatory PCR test on or before day two of their return. All travellers and members of their household will also be reminded about the availability of additional lateral flow tests to continue to monitor their health
  • People arriving from ‘amber list’ countries are required to quarantine for 10 days at home upon their return. This is a legal requirement. They are also required to book and pay for mandatory PCR tests on day two and on day eight of their return. Unlike in England, Wales does not operate a test-to-release scheme where an additional test can be taken on day five to reduce the period of quarantine – this is because some 30 per cent of people who develop COVID-19 do so after day five
  • People arriving from countries on the ‘red list’ are required to quarantine for a full 10 days on arrival in the UK at a designated UK port in a government-managed facility – a so-called ‘covid hotel’ – at their own cost, starting from £1,750 per person. All UK entry points for arrivals from red list countries are in England and Scotland, which means that Welsh residents returning from those countries will need to quarantine outside of Wales. Travellers are also required to book and pay for mandatory PCR tests on day two and day eight following their return. All those who do not follow the rules for red list countries face fixed notice penalties of £10,000.

Welsh residents must also consult the requirements for visitors for any country that they plan to travel to. Restrictions may be in place, including proof of vaccination, tests, quarantine and reasons for entry.

Vaccination status certificates will be available for people in Wales who have had two doses of their vaccination and need to urgently travel to a country that requires COVID-19 vaccination proof from 24 May 2021.

Drakeford continued: “We call on people to think about whether they need to travel overseas at this time. We should be cautious about going abroad in light of the ongoing risk of coronavirus and the presence of variants of concern in many countries. My clear message to everyone is make to Wales your destination of choice this year.”

Responding to the First Minister of Wales’ announcement on international travel restarting in Wales from 17 May 2021, the Airport Operators Association’s (AOA) Chief Executive, Karen Dee, said: “It is welcome news that Wales will join England and Scotland in restarting international travel, using the same risk-based traffic light approach. This is another important step to ensuring a four-nation approach on restarting aviation.”

“Yet, despite today’s announcement and Wales’ successful vaccine rollout, a meaningful restart of aviation is a significant way off due to so few countries being on the green list. It was disappointing to hear the First Minister focus only on holiday travel in his announcement. Aviation is about more than just holidays. It provides the crucial link for the many people in Wales to see friends and families abroad once again, and Welsh businesses rely on aviation to reach new and existing customers abroad,” she added.

Dee concluded: “The Welsh government must play its part in restoring connectivity by adding countries to the green list as soon as the local health situation allows and by introducing rapid, affordable tests for travellers.”

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