Vaughan Gething, Minister for Health and Social Services
Members will be aware that the Welsh Government made provision in the Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (Wales) Regulations 2020 to ensure that travellers entering Wales from overseas countries and territories must isolate for 10 days and provide passenger information, to prevent the further spread of coronavirus. These restrictions came into force on 8 June 2020.
The International Travel Regulations are kept under review, and on 18 January the travel corridors were suspended. The current arrangements for travel within the Common Travel Area (CTA) (UK, Ireland, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands) are unchanged so travel without isolation is still permitted.
From 15 February the UK Government introduced a managed quarantine regime for those returning from red list countries into England. 5 ports of entry in England were designated for such arrivals who are required to complete a period of managed quarantine in a hotel. There are a limited number of exemptions for categories, such as diplomats, armed forces personnel and hauliers.
From 15 February the Welsh Government introduced a ban on travellers arriving into Wales if they had been in a red list country in the previous 10 days. They must arrive at one of the designated ports of entry in England (or Scotland) and remain there in managed isolation for 10 days before travelling on to Wales. This means that such arrivals are not allowed entry in to Wales (except very limited exemptions) and to enter contrary to that provision will be a criminal offence with a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) of £10,000.
The latest JBC risk assessment 10 March shows that the risks of imported infection from Variants of Concern (VoCs) has reduced for Portugal and Mauritius so these are to be removed from the red list. This means that direct flights will be reinstated and arrivals from those countries may isolate for 10 days at home.
However the risk assessments for Ethiopia, Oman, Qatar and Somalia shows that the risks have increased and these should be added to the red list of countries. This would mean that direct flights would be banned, travellers would not be permitted entry to Wales but instead would have to enter through a designated port in England or Scotland and remain in managed quarantine there for 10 days before travelling onto Wales.
There are already a very small number of exemptions from entry to Wales from a red list country for diplomats, military personnel, and to ensure the continuation of essential government business. The current exemptions from the ban on travelling to Wales from a red list country are to be continued and exemptions for aviation and maritime crew will be introduced. Such arrivals will be required to isolate at-home for 10 days.
Despite there being a ban on entering Wales from a ‘red list’ country, the Border Force has informed officials that there have been a few examples of people arriving from ‘red list’ countries via Ireland into Wales’ seaports. These amendments will provide immigration officers and the police with powers to;
- require production of a passport or travel documentation;
- detain a person for up to three hours;
- require a person to travel to an address in Wales (or a premises secured by the Welsh Ministers);
- require a person to isolate at that address;
- search a person, their baggage, or their vehicle;
- seize and retain documents or articles recovered upon a search.
As a limited number of people will isolating at-home after arriving in Wales from a red-list country amendments are to be made to allow a limited number of reasons for a person to leave a place of isolation.
The regulations come into force from 04:00 hours Saturday 20 March.