Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services
International travel continues to represent a risk of importing coronavirus infections to Wales, especially new and emerging variants of concern. Our advice continues to be that people should only travel abroad for essential reasons.
The border health measures in place across the UK go some way to protect against the importation of infection and the introduction of new variants.
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.
Today, I have agreed to remove Kenya, Oman, Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Egypt from the red list. The changes will come into effect from 4am on Wednesday 22 September.
We will carefully consider the UK Government’s proposed changes to the border health measures, which include the removal of pre-departure testing and introducing lateral 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.
These changes are not without risk – they weaken the line of defence on importing infection and increase opportunities for new infections and new variants to enter the UK and 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.