Ask Adrian: Your travel and vaccine questions answered by ITV Wales' Political Editor

On Friday coronavirus restrictions in Wales will change again. There will be new restrictions on pubs and restaurants, and travels rules between Wales and other parts of the UK will change.

There's also the prospect of a vaccine being rolled out in Wales within a matter of days.

All this has left us with a lot of questions. Here ITV Wales News' Political Editor Adrian Masters does his best to answer them.


Question: Foreign travel into the UK

Dear Adrian,

Have you heard if there is any confirmation, or would it be possible to find out, that Wales will follow England's ruling on foreign travellers entering UK, from 15th December? Providing they have a private Covid test, after day five, and that returns with a negative result, there would be no need to further isolate. It would make a great difference to my family being able to share a very special Christmas. I would appreciate your help on this matter.

Many thanks,

Jan Evans

Answer: This is the Test to Release Scheme introduced by the UK Government at the end of November. 

From the 15th December, if you have to isolate when you return to England from overseas travel, you can reduce the time you need to isolate by paying for a private Cover test after five days. If your result is negative you can stop self-isolating. It will be an England-only scheme.

The Welsh Government is keeping the original system in place for the time being meaning travellers returning from countries which aren’t exempt from quarantine rules will have to isolate for 14 days. 


Question: Shielding and vaccinations

Hi Adrian,

Could you please ask the question as to when the people who are on the shielding list are going to be invited for the vaccination? This would enable myself and many others who are at high risk to be able to consider going back to work and seeing family members.

Kind regards,

Claire Fellows 

Credit: PA

Answer: There isn’t a date as such because not all the doses of vaccine have arrived here in the UK.

The rollout in Wales is due to start on Tuesday 8th December and will be distributed according to a priority list which puts the most vulnerable first in the queue, i.e. people over 80, those living in care homes, care home staff and NHS and social care workers. However both the Welsh and UK Governments have said that the difficulty in storing this particular vaccine - it needs to be kept at minus 70 degrees celsius - means that the first doses will go to hospitals and not directly to care homes.

There are further doses of that vaccine on their way in December and the expectation that another vaccine will be ready to distribute soon. 

All of that is my way of explaining that the vaccinations are starting next week and are expected to gather pace in the new year. Those who have been told they needed to shield, I.e. the most clinically vulnerable, are the fourth group in the list so quite high up which means your answer is early in the new year. 

More here: When will the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine be available in Wales?


Question: Traveling abroad

Dear Adrian,

We booked a holiday abroad back in February before Covid 19 resulted in various restrictions, we are due to fly out of Gatwick bound for Antigua (which is included within the UK travel corridor) on Friday 11th December 2020. Could you ask the First Minister whether he intends to lift the restrictions on foreign travel this coming Friday and if not, when he intends to allow foreign travel, especially as people living in England are allowed to travel in spite of which Tier they happen to live in. We would be very grateful for any updated information you could provide us.

Many thanks in anticipation,

Chris & Hilary Jones

Answer: The First Minister has confirmed that it won't be illegal for people to travel to an airport in a low tier area of England, such as Gatwick, and from there to fly abroad on holiday. But he said they are strongly advised not to. 

In his answer to me Mark Drakeford said: "Because people are able to travel into let's say tier two areas in England, they will be able to go to airports in England that are open because the English government has resumed international travel. So people in Wales will be able to travel if they take that route. Our advice to them is not to do it. Because you put yourself and you put others at risk."

The Welsh Government’s website says: “We know this will be disappointing but travelling out of Wales for a holiday is not one of the permitted reasons under the Regulations. The Regulations are in place to protect you and your loved ones from coronavirus and to prevent the onward spread of the virus to other areas of Wales, the UK and other countries.

“If you have pre-booked – and paid for a holiday – we would advise you to contact the travel agent or travel company to discuss the current situation in Wales and the restrictions which have been put in place by the Welsh Government to restrict non-essential travel. You should also contact your travel insurer to discuss the situation – while many insurers have designed policies with coronavirus exclusion clauses, some annual policies may cover this situation.”