Covid travel: Wales 'reluctantly' scraps self-isolation rules and tests for vaccinated arrivals

Credit: PA

Pre-departure Covid tests and self-isolation rules for fully vaccinated travellers arriving in Wales are to be "reluctantly" scrapped, the Welsh Government has announced.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan said the Welsh Government was moving in line with decisions being taken elsewhere in the UK.

Earlier Boris Johnson told MPs in the Commons that pre-dearture tests for those arriving in England and the requirement for travellers to self-isolate on arrival until they receive a negative PCR test is being dropped.

Suzanne Cumpston, a travel agent for Sam Smith Travel in Cowbridge, welcomed these changes, saying it has given the industry a "confidence boost".

Credit: ITV Wales

She said: “Yesterday’s news was absolutely fantastic. It genuinely felt like Christmas.

“The fact that our lovely customers and the public in general, they have less stress with regards to the return lateral flow testing and less costs most importantly, especially for the families as well, I mean that’s really good news. 

"Also the fact now that if you come back into the UK and Wales - because we’ve aligned, there’s no isolation and no day two PCR test or by day two, the fact now that you can buy a cheaper, quick antigen test is just fantastic."

"For the best part of the last two years, we’ve been battered and bruised and it’s been turbulent. There’s been stop, start travel as everyone knows but this is defiantly the confidence boost we need as an industry.

"All my colleagues in the industry are absolutely thrilled with this news.”  

In a statement Morgan said: "I have today reluctantly agreed to remove the requirements for fully vaccinated travellers and under 18s to take a pre departure test and a day 2 PCR test when arriving in the UK.  

"All fully vaccinated travellers will need to take an LFD test at day 2 and, if positive, a follow-up PCR test to enable genomic sequencing to be carried out.

"The requirement to self-isolate until a negative test has been received has also been removed.  

"The requirements for non-vaccinated travellers remain unchanged."

These changes come into effect from 4am on Friday 7 January.

The rules will revert to the system in place in October, with travellers required to take a lateral flow test no later than the end of day two after their arrival.

The measures were originally introduced following the identification of the fast-spreading Omicron variant in South Africa last November.

Omicron has spread around the world and is now the dominant form of the virus in the UK. 

Wales' health minister also reiterated the Welsh Governments advice to avoid "all but essential international travel at this time."

The announcement - which covers those passengers who are fully vaccinated or are under the age of 18 - has been broadly welcomed by the travel industry.

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of the industry body Airlines UK, said it would be a "massive boost" for the sector at a "critical" time of the year.

"People will now be able to book knowing that - for the fully vaccinated - all emergency testing restrictions have been removed," he said.

"Today marks an important step towards learning to live alongside the virus, helping passengers and the travel sector look ahead to what will be an all-important spring and summer season."