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.
On 10 July, the Welsh Government amended these Regulations to introduce exemptions from the isolation requirement for a list of countries and territories, and a limited range of people in specialised sectors or employment who may be exempted from the isolation requirement or excepted from certain provisions of the passenger information requirements.
Since then these Regulations have been kept under review and a number of changes to the list of exempt countries and territories have been made.
Today I reviewed the latest JBC assessments and I have decided that Aruba, the Azores, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, Chile, Madeira and Qatar will be removed from the list of exempt countries and territories, so travellers from those countries will need to isolate on arrival in Wales.
The JBC assessment also considered the emergence of a new variant in Brazil and JBC recommends a precautionary approach is appropriate until definite information is available.
Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Suriname, and French Guiana have strong travel connections with Brazil and their reported epidemiological data is increasing, consistent with a new variant. Also Chile has a border with Argentina who have reported community spread of the variant and their epidemiological metrics are increasing.
I have therefore decided that action should be taken to remove the sectoral exemptions for travellers arriving from these countries potentially linked to this new variant. All travellers arriving into Wales who have been in these countries in the previous 10 days will be required to isolate for 10 days and will only be able to leave isolation in very limited circumstances. The same isolation requirements will also apply to all members of their household. These enhanced isolation requirements will also apply to persons already in Wales who have been in these countries in the last 10 days and members of their households.
In addition direct flights from these countries will no longer be able to land in Wales.
The necessary regulations will be made today and the additional measures relating to the Brazil variant will come into force at 04:00 on Friday 15 January 2021, with the remainder coming into force at 04:00 on Saturday 16 January and they will be laid tomorrow once they have been registered.