Welsh Government 'carefully consider' changing international travel Covid rules on testing

The UK Government announced that fully vaccinated travellers will no longer need to pay for a pre-departure lateral flow test or a post-arrival PCR test when returning from countries not on the red list. Credit: PA Images

Welsh Government has said it will "carefully consider" whether to adopt the same rules for international travel as have been announced for those in England.

From next month, people living over the border will no longer need to take a pre-departure Covid test or a PCR test on their arrival home if they are double-vaccinated and they are holidaying to a country on the green travel list.

The UK Government have also announced that the amber travel list is being scrapped while scores of countries have been added to the green list.

Eluned Morgan, Wales' Health Minister, said while a "four-nation collaborative approach" to border rules is "critical" for "effective" arrangements, any decision made here will take into account the potential risk to public health.

It comes as Welsh Government remove Kenya, Oman, Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Egypt from the red list. These changes will come into effect from 4am on Wednesday, 22 September.   

Double-vaccinated travellers will be able to replace PCR tests with lateral flows. Credit: PA

In a statement, the Health Minister emphasised that international travel continues to pose a risk, particularly because fo the threat of emerging variants of concern. Ms Morgan said the official advice is still to only travel abroad if it is essential.

She continued: "A four-nation collaborative approach is critical to evaluate and implement effective border control arrangements.

"As Wales shares an open border with England, and most travellers arriving in Wales enter through ports outside Wales, it is not effective to have separate border health policy arrangements for Wales."

However Welsh Government are yet to decide whether to implement the same changes to rules on testing as England announced on Friday 17.

The Health Minister explained that "changes are not without risk" as they "weaken the line of defence" against importing cases of the virus.

She said: "We will carefully consider the UK Government’s proposed changes to the borderhealth measures, which include the removal of pre-departure testing and introducinglateral flow tests instead of PCR tests on day two of people’s return to the UK. 

"Our considerations will be underpinned by robust evidence and our main focus will continue to be on reducing the risk to public health in Wales. 

"Vaccines can help reduce this risk but only if they are effective against new and emerging variants of concern and high-risk variants under investigation."

The changes to England's testing rules will come into force from Monday October 4.

It comes as Welsh Government announced the introduction of so-called 'Covid-passes' for nightclubs and live sports events.

It means that from October 11, people in Wales will have to show a Covid-19 pass to confirm their vaccine status, or a negative test, to enter nightclubs and attend events.

The Welsh Government said it was introducing the measure to help reduce the spread of coronavirus - as rates reach "very high levels" in the country.