People arriving into Wales from abroad will now have to provide a negative coronavirus test result in the days before they travel.
The Welsh Government has announced passengers arriving into Wales by boat, plane or train from countries outside the Common Travel Area will have to take a test up to 72 hours before departing the country they are in.
It has been introduced in a bid to protect against the new strains of coronavirus such as those seen in Brazil, Denmark and South Africa.
The rules come into force from 4am on Monday and include people travelling from anywhere other than the UK, Republic of Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: “We are doing everything we can to slow down the spread of the virus.
“These new measures will help ensure we prevent new strains of the virus developing internationally from being imported into Wales.
“We are already asking passengers returning from high-risk countries to self-isolate for 10 days and these requirements remain in place.
“Added to the requirement to self-isolate, pre-departure tests will provide a further line of defence – helping us control the virus as we continue to roll-out the vaccine at pace.”
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Many people have called for such measures to be brought in from the early days of the pandemic.
Passengers arriving from countries not on the Welsh Government’s travel corridor list must continue to self-isolate for 10 days upon arrival.
Prior to departure, passengers will need to present proof of a negative Covid-19 test result to carriers, as well as their Passenger Locator Form.
Lockdown restrictions, which came into force last month, remain in place meaning everyone must stay at home unless travelling for a very limited set of reasons, including for work.
Travelling for a holiday is not permitted under alert level 4, whether that is in Wales, elsewhere in the UK or overseas.
First Minister Mark Drakeford added: “Unfortunately, we have seen some worrying new strains of coronavirus appear around the world and need to take extra steps to protect people in Wales and the rest of the UK from these new forms of the virus.
“Suspending travel corridors means that most people who are travelling overseas will now have to complete a pre-departure test and quarantine when they return to Wales to make sure they are not bringing coronavirus home with them.
“We are starting to see cases of coronavirus falling in Wales thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of everyone – with our vaccination programme gathering real momentum, we want to do everything we can to keep Wales safe.
“I am pleased we have been able to work with the UK Government and with the First Ministers of Northern Ireland and Scotland to agree a joint approach.”
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The UK Government has announced similar measures for England, which were due to come into force on Friday but will now start at the same time as in Wales.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer claimed the UK Government’s delay was “a complete mess”.
“Yet again we’ve got a Prime Minister and a Government that’s late, slow and even now, at the 11th hour, they’re putting testing back another few days,” he told reporters during a visit to a mass vaccination centre in Stevenage.
“I think people will be bewildered and they will feel that we’re exposed – there’s a gap in our defences. We can’t go on like this with delayed decisions not being made in a competent way.”
What do you think about the new rules? Let us know in the comment section here.
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