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This guidance is national guidance that applies across Wales.

Introduction

From 12 April 2021 travel restrictions were eased so that travel into or out of Wales was permitted as long as the journey took place to or from a country within the UK or wider Common Travel Area (Ireland, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands). However, some countries within the Common Travel Area may still have travel restrictions in place which may prevent journeys without a reasonable excuse, for example, travelling for work or education. 

The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) Regulations 2020, as amended, ("the regulations") have applied since Sunday 20 December 2020.

International travel restarted from Monday 17 May. A traffic light system classifies countries as green, amber and red. However, the Welsh Government continues to advise people to only travel abroad for essential purposes.

Anyone thinking of travelling abroad must adhere to Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (Wales) Regulations 2020 (“the international travel regulations”), and have regard to the following guidance: Rules for foreign travel to and from Wales: coronavirus (COVID-19).

International travel will continue to be restricted by the international travel regulations, which are kept under constant review.

This guide will help you understand how to travel safely whilst the coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions in Wales are in place, in the event you intend to travel.  It provides advice for travelling by foot, cycling and in private vehicles (for example cars and vans), and by taxis and other forms of public transport (for example trains, buses, ferries and airplanes.

Requirements on providers of transport

The regulations impose obligations on persons responsible for premises open to the public or where work takes place to minimise the  risk of exposure to coronavirus at the premises, and to minimise the risk of spread of coronavirus by those who have been on the premises.

For the purposes of the regulations premises include vehicles used to provide a public transport service, and this includes taxis.

The regulations require persons responsible for premises open to the public or where work is being carried out:

  1. to undertake a specific assessment of the risk of exposure to coronavirus at their premises
  2. to take all reasonable measures  to ensure that a distance of 2 metres is maintained between persons on the premises (except between people from within households, extended households and groups of up to 6 people permitted to gather under the regulations) see: Taking reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus in workplaces and premises open to the public
  3. to take any other reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to the virus on the premises, for example, to limit close face to face interaction, ensure the premises are well ventilated and maintain hygiene, and
  4. to provide information to those entering or working at premises about how to minimise risk of exposure to coronavirus.

Public transport operators may not always be able to guarantee that 2 metre distancing will be possible on board. In such circumstances operators should take steps to mitigate the risk that occurs where where 2 metre distancing cannot be maintained. If an activity that takes place at a distance of less than 2m indoors cannot be effectively mitigated, then it should not take place.

Anyone planning to travel by public transport should plan ahead, check how busy services are likely to be where operators provide this information, and avoid busy times if possible.

The regulations provide for guidance to be issued about the practical application of the requirements imposed, and those subject to the requirements must have regard to that guidance.

Requirements on members of the public

Wearing a face covering is a legal requirement when using public transport.

You are asked to at all times follow the instructions or advice given to you by operators when using public transport for your own safety and that of other passengers and transport staff.

Many people have made huge sacrifices to live within the rules since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. We need to make sure that the effort we have made together is not wasted. 

To do that, we all need to take steps to keep each other safe, and we must all keep living our lives differently.

The main things we are asking people to do are:

  • continue to limit the number of people in each other’s homes, unless in certain very limited circumstances. See: Current restrictions
  • please maintain social distancing indoors.  There is no requirement to socially distance outdoors, unless an operator has identified this as part of their risk assessment as a reasonable measure to be taken.  If this is the case, please comply with their instructions. You may wish to keep your distance from others outdoors voluntarily.
  • wear face coverings in indoor public places, including on public transport, unless you have a reasonable excuse not to. See: Face coverings: guidance for public
  • please meet people outdoors rather than indoors where possible
  • work from home if you can
  • wash your hands regularly and follow other advice on hygiene
  • self-isolate if you have symptoms, if you live with someone who has symptoms, or if you have been told by NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect that you are a contact of a confirmed case. See: Self-isolation
  • take up both doses of the vaccine when you are offered them and encourage others to do the same.

For further information on what you should or shouldn’t do, please see our guidance: COVID-19 alert levels.

Actions when travelling

If you intend to travel, you should:

  • consider all other forms of transport such as cycling and walking before using public transport
  • follow the instructions or advice given to you by operators when using public transport
  • avoid the busiest times and routes – check changes to local services before you travel, services may be reduced.
  • keep your distance when you travel where possible
  • wash and sanitise your hands regularly
  • wear a 3 layer face covering when using public transport or using bus or rail stations or other transport hubs. See: Face coverings: guidance for public

Ventilation

Ventilation is one of a number of tools that has been identified to control the transmission of COVID-19 in public buildings and within vehicles. For this reason windows on vehicles without air conditioning may have been opened by the operator. Please open, and keep open, windows wherever possible to help limit the spread of Covid-19 for example on trains, buses, taxis, ferries.

Face coverings

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued advice on non-medical face coverings which recommends that governments encourage the public to wear 3 layer non-medical face coverings in specific settings where other more effective measures are not possible.

As demand for public transport increases this might mean that 2 metres physical distancing is difficult or not possible.

The Welsh Government has made it a legal requirement to wear a non-medical face covering on public transport, which includes taxis. Face coverings must also be worn in all indoor areas of bus and rail stations, ferry ports, airports and other transport hubs.

While the vast majority of people will be able to wear a face covering, some will be exempt or have a reasonable excuse not to do so. These include children under the age of 11 years old, and people with certain medical conditions. Further information on the exemptions can be found in the face coverings guidance for the general public: Face coverings: guidance for public.

Transport for Wales (TfW) has introduced a personalised exemption note scheme for customers who are exempt or have a reasonable excuse not to wear face coverings on public transport. See: Face coverings guidance on the Transport for Wales website.

homemade or purchased 3 layer face covering might reduce transmission from one person to another if made, worn, handled and disposed of properly. Some face coverings are washable and reusable. 

Do not let wearing a face covering give you a false sense of security. If you have symptoms, or if you have been in contact with someone with symptoms, have tested positive or have been told by NHS Test Trace Protect that you are a contact of a positive case, you must still self-isolate.

Wearing a face covering cannot be an excuse for ignoring social distancing and other hygiene measures. Maintaining physical distancing wherever possible is  an effective measure to reduce transmission of coronavirus. 

Although social distancing outdoors is not a legal requirement, operators may have identified this in their risk assessment as a reasonable measure to be taken, such as on an outdoor station platform. If this is the case, please comply with their instructions. You may also wish to continue to keep a distance from others outdoors voluntarily.

Your journey

Walking and cycling

Walk or cycle if you can. It is good for you and the environment. Walking and cycling will also reduce pressure on the public transport system and the road network.

Try to maintain physical distancing when you walk or cycle. For example when approaching or passing other cyclists or pedestrians or when waiting at crossings and traffic lights.

Where using bicycles including bicycles hired from docking stations, wash or sanitise your hands before and after cycling.

Public transport

Plan your journey

Work from home if you can. Transport services may be reduced. If you need to travel, both before and during your journey check with your transport operator for the latest travel advice on your route including the level of service and how busy it is.

Travel may take longer than normal on some routes due to reduced capacity and social distancing measures. Allow sufficient time if your journey involves changes between different forms of transport.

Plan ahead by identifying alternative routes and options as there may be disruption to services.

Where possible, book your travel online through your transport provider’s ticketing app or website. Consider contactless payment to buy tickets. If you are unable to purchase tickets in advance or to use contactless via a bank card etc, and have to use cash, check with the operator as some bus companies operate a non-change policy to protect drivers.

Taking a less busy route and reducing the number of changes (for example between bus to train) will help you keep your distance from others. Public Health Wales recommends keeping a 2 metre distance from others. Where this is difficult, you should keep the time you spend within 2 metres of other people as short as possible and avoid physical contact. You must also wear a face covering on public transport unless you are exempt or have a reasonable excuse not to do so. 

Wearing a face covering outdoors is not generally recommended unless you are in a crowded place (such as a station platform or bus queue) and physical distancing is not possible. Social distancing outdoors is not a legal requirement, however, an operator may have identified this in their risk assessment as a reasonable measure to be taken. If this is the case, you should comply with their instructions. You may also wish to socially distance outdoors voluntarily.

Try to start or end your journey using a station or mode of transport you know to be quieter or more direct. For instance, walk the first or last mile of your journey, or alight at an earlier station, where this is possible.

If you need travel advice and assistance, for example if you have a disability or particular need, consult the relevant transport operator in advance to get advice and discuss what you need.

Do you need to check if public toilets are available on your proposed route?

What to take with you

Consider making a list of items to take with you and minimise the luggage you take on transport.

This could include some warmer clothing: part of our current advice is that ‘where possible, transport operators and businesses should ensure that a fresh air supply is consistently flowing through vehicles, carriages, and transport hubs to minimise the risk of transmission of Coronavirus’. See: Public transport: guidance for operators

On your journey

There may continue to be a reduction in services and there may be cancellations with little warning.

Have regard to social distancing in bus queues at bus stops and at railway stations. Social distancing outdoors is not a legal requirement, however, an operator may have identified this in their risk assessment as a reasonable measure to be taken. If this is the case, you should comply with their instructions. You may also wish to socially distance outdoors voluntarily. Social distancing is still required in indoor public places, which includes on public transport.

Wear a face covering outdoors if the place is crowded and you cannot maintain 2m distance from others. If you cannot get onto a particular bus or train, be patient in these difficult circumstances. Everybody will be trying their best. Don’t rush the doors of a bus or train and cause a crowd or put other travellers with particular needs at a disadvantage.

When travelling, you should try to keep 2 metres away from people who are not in your household or extended household, or part of a group of up to 6 people travelling together. There may be situations where this is difficult, for example when boarding or alighting, on busier services, at busier times of day or when walking through interchanges. If you come within 2 metres of others, you should avoid physical contact, try to face away from other people, and keep the time you spend within 2 metres of others as short as possible.

All passengers must wear a face covering on public transport and when in indoor areas of transport hubs such as bus stations, railway stations, airports and ferry ports. Wearing a face covering, might provide some extra protection to you and could protect others if you are infected, whether or not you have developed symptoms. Make sure you wear your face covering properly so that it forms a tight fit over your nose and mouth. Do not let the use of a face covering give you a false sense of security: continue to socially distance and maintain good hygiene including washing your hands before putting a face covering on or taking it off and wash your hands for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser as soon as possible after completing your journey.

A face covering in this situation is not the same as the surgical masks or respirators used by health care and other workers such as social care workers as part of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). We should continue to prioritise this higher specification PPE for health and social care workers and those in industrial settings for example where exposed to dust and other similar hazards.

Dispose of used non-reusable face coverings carefully in litter or other receptacles provided for the purpose or take them home with you to dispose of later. Do not litter with used face coverings: not only are they litter but they could be a source of transmission of the coronavirus.

Treat transport staff with respect and follow instructions from your transport operator. This may include:

  • notices about which seats to use or how to queue
  • additional screens, barriers or floor markings
  • requests to board through different doors or to move to less busy areas

You might be stopped from getting on a bus, train or taxi if the driver or guard has reasonable grounds to suspect that you are about to fail to wear a face covering on or in the vehicle unless exempt.  Please do not be offended if you are asked about not wearing a face covering. If you have an exemption, you can say so. You are not required to explain the details of your exemption or to provide proof. You might wish to obtain a TfW exemption card. See: Face coverings on Transport for Wales.

Be considerate to your fellow passengers and to transport staff:

  • wait for other passengers to get on or off first before you board
  • do not congregate near entrances, exits, under canopies, at bus stops, on platforms or outside stations
  • be prepared to queue or take a different entrance or exit at stations
  • wait for the next service if you cannot safely keep your distance on board a train or bus
  • respect other people’s space while travelling
  • be aware of pregnant, older and disabled people who may require a seat or extra space, for example to secure a wheelchair
  • be aware that some individuals may have hidden disabilities
  • be aware of people who need particular assistance, for example if someone needs to lip read you can lift your face covering temporarily while maintaining appropriate physical distancing
  • if somebody near you is experiencing difficulty hearing, reading or seeing a notice or otherwise having difficulty accessing information, be prepared to help them out as you would in normal circumstances while maintaining social distance

Be aware of the surfaces you touch. Try to touch as few surfaces as possible. Use hand sanitiser if you do. Be careful not to touch your face.

Carry tissues and cover your mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing or use something else like the elbow of your sleeve if you have forgotten any tissues, to minimise the spread of droplets. Wear your face covering. Wash your hands or use hand sanitiser at the start and end of your journey.

Seek assistance if you need it

If you require assistance when travelling and would normally contact your transport operator ahead of time, continue to do so, so they can prepare accordingly. If you have problems queuing or otherwise moving through a travel concourse or accessing public transport vehicles, speak to your transport operator in advance to get advice and explain what assistance you need.

If any problems arise or you feel ill during your journey, speak to a member of transport staff. In the case of an emergency, contact the emergency services as you normally would.

If you need help, maintain a 2 metre distance from members of staff. If this is not possible you should avoid physical contact and keep the time you spend within 2 metres of staff as short as possible.

Children on public transport

Children under the age of 11 may not fully understand the concept of social distancing and may find it difficult, depending on their age.  However, social distancing applies to children on public transport as well as adults in order to help minimise the risk of transmission of the virus.

Children should keep 2 metres from others who are not in their household or extended household, or the group of up to 6 people with whom they are travelling. If this is not possible they should avoid physical contact, face away from others, and keep the time spent with others within 2 metres as short as possible.

Social distancing outdoors is not a legal requirement, however, an operator may have identified this in their risk assessment as a reasonable measure to be taken. If this is the case, you and any children with you should comply with their instructions. You and any children with you may also wish to socially distance from others outdoors voluntarily. Please also remember that outdoors, other people may have chosen to keep their distance from others, and this should be respected by everyone.

If you are the responsible adult or carer travelling with children, please try to ensure that children observe physical distancing from other passengers.

Where travel is necessary, consider whether children should walk or cycle and whether they should be accompanied by a responsible adult or carer.

All children in year 7 and older age groups should wear a face covering when using school transport, unless there is a reasonable excuse for not doing so. Children under the age of 11 are exempt from wearing face coverings on general public transport. Children over the age of 11 are required to follow the same rules as adults when using general public transport.

Completing your journey

When finishing your journey:

  • consider walking or cycling from the station or stop you arrived at
  • follow local guidance
  • wash or sanitise your or your children’s hands as soon as possible

Taxis and private hire vehicles

Find information for taxi and private hire vehicle drivers. See: Taxi and private hire vehicle guidance.

At taxi ranks try to keep a 2 metre distance from others. If this is not possible in a crowded area, consider wearing a face covering outdoors. You should wear a face covering when travelling by taxi or private hire vehicle unless you have an exemption.

Private cars and other vehicles

Plan your journey

Plan your route, including any breaks, before setting out. Routes may be different as local areas make changes to enable physical distancing on pavements and cycle routes.

If travelling by car, including for the purpose of driving lessons, wear a face covering, unless that would interfere with driving.

Good ventilation (keeping the car windows open) and facing away from each other may help to reduce the risk of transmission.

Be aware of the surfaces you or others touch. Keep areas such as the steering wheel and door handles clean.

If you travel in a car with others who are not from your household or extended household, you will come within 2 metres of each other. You should avoid physical contact, wear a face covering, try to face away from others and keep the time you spend in the car with others as short as possible.

If driving, you should anticipate more pedestrians and cyclists than usual, especially at peak times of day. Cyclists should allow room for a 2 metre separation from each other at traffic lights.

Limit the time you spend at garages, petrol stations and motorway services. Keep a 2 metre distance from others and if possible pay by contactless. Wash or sanitise your hands when arriving and leaving.

Completing your journey

When finishing your journey, we recommend you:

  • follow local guidance
  • wash or sanitise your hands as soon as possible.

Cross border travel

Anyone who does travel to other areas of the UK should make themselves aware of the restrictions and guidance in areas to which they intend to travel.

Air passengers

International travel will continue to be restricted, by the international travel regulations, which are kept under constant review. see: Travel to Wales: COVID-19 testing and isolation

There is UK wide advice safer air travel guidance for passengers if you live in Wales and have to travel overseas or you are visiting Wales.

International travel

International travel restarted from Monday 17 May. A traffic light system classifies countries as green, amber and red. However, the Welsh Government continues to advise people to only travel abroad for essential purposes.

Anyone thinking of travelling from or to Wales from abroad must adhere to the following guidance: Rules for foreign travel to and from Wales: coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Travel to Wales: COVID-19 testing and isolation requirements.

International travel will continue to be restricted by the international travel regulations, which are kept under constant review. See: Travel to Wales: COVID-19 testing and isolation.

If travelling abroad, make sure you check the latest Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice (on GOV.UK) before travelling. Check with your airline, ferry or train operator on specific rules for each route and destination.

Bear in mind that quarantine/isolation rules may apply when you return to the UK.

At all points in your journey it is important that you follow social distancing guidelines indoors, keep 2 metres away from others where possible, and wear face coverings where required. Where keeping a distance might not be possible, you should keep the time you spend within 2 metres as short as possible and avoid physical contact.

Social distancing outdoors is not a legal requirement, however, an operator may have identified this in their risk assessment as a reasonable measure to be taken. If this is the case, you should comply with their instructions. You may also wish to socially distance outdoors voluntarily.

You should review and follow any government guidance set by your destination country, and check public health advice before returning to the UK.

Your transport provider might put measures in place to help you follow the guidance of the destination country.

When finishing your journey, we recommend you:

  • follow all local guidance
  • wash or sanitise your hands as soon as possible

Legal requirements and enforcement

The requirement in the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) Regulations 2020, as amendedCoronavirus legislation: restrictions on individuals, business and others to take all reasonable measures to ensure that a distance of 2 metres is maintained in order to minimise the risk of the spread of coronavirus applies to vehicles used for the provision of public transport, as well as other premises.

As a result it applies, for example on buses and trains as well as in indoor areas of railway stations, bus stations and airports. It is however, recognised that there will be times when it is difficult or not possible to maintain 2 metres social distancing indoors, and operators must put mitigations in place to manage this risk as far as possible. Passengers should seek to minimise the amount of time they spend in closer proximity to other people and take avoiding actions where possible.

Additional guidance has been issued to operators of public transport about additional mitigations they should consider putting in place when it is not possible to maintain 2 metres physical distance. You should follow the instructions or advice of operators of public transport at all times. See: Coronavirus legislation: restrictions on individuals, business and others.

Given the dispersed nature of public transport it will be very difficult to have official enforcement of any guidance and there will be a high dependency on the general public’s acting on the advice and on self-regulation.

Additional advice may be provided by transport staff and others employed for the purpose as many of us will have seen at supermarkets where social distancing is being effectively managed in queues and inside shops.

It is not the intention of the regulations to make queuing for a bus unlawful but the public need to be clear about their responsibility to maintain social distancing wherever possible, and outdoors if an operator’s risk assessment identifies this as a reasonable measure to be employed, and to wear face coverings in indoor public places.

Furthermore, employers have an overarching duty to their workers under the Health and Safety at Work Act. That may have an increased relevance for staff in the public transport system as demand increases.

The provisions for official enforcement are set out in the regulations and ultimately if an offence may have been committed the Police, British Transport Police or CPSOs may become involved and there is provision for fines to be imposed where offences have been committed.

Checklists for safer travel

Plan your journey

If travelling in Wales:

  • walk or cycle to your destination if you can
  • check the latest travel advice from your transport operator
  • ask for any assistance you think you may need
  • have you booked your travel ticket online or checked if contactless payment is possible?
  • have you planned your journey to minimise crowded areas and to allow for delays?
  • are you taking the most direct route to your destination?

If travelling outside Wales:

  • are you aware of any local requirements with which you should comply?
  • have you checked public health advice before returning to Wales or the UK?

What to take with you

  • a plan for your journey
  • contactless payment card
  • phone (if needed for travel updates, tickets, contactless payments)
  • tickets
  • hand sanitiser
  • essential medicines
  • food and water
  • tissues
  • a face covering or more than one if your journey is a long one or you will be travelling back later 
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