The Welsh Government has issued a written statement on International Travel Changes. The statement by Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services reads as follows:
We have consistently urged the UK Government to take a more precautionary approach towards international travel to prevent coronavirus being re-imported into the UK, especially new and emerging variants, which may not respond to the vaccines.
As most people travelling overseas will do so from English airports and ports and, as Wales shares an open border with England, although we are concerned about the risks related to travel, it is not practical develop its own border health policy in isolation from the other nations of the UK.
I have therefore agreed that Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela should remain on the red list with a further 47 countries removed*.
I have also agreed to expand the number of countries we recognise as part of the fully vaccinated definition by further 38 countries**, together with those fully- vaccinated under the United Nations vaccination programme.
These changes will come into effect from 4am on Monday 11 October 2021.
These changes are not without risk. They increase opportunities for new infections and new variants, which could escape the vaccines to enter the UK and Wales. We look to the UK Government to provide reassurances that it will be maintaining consistent and robust surveillance systems that can detect dangerous variants early and that measures to relax restrictions can be swiftly reversed should the international position worsen.
We are concerned about the cumulative impact of the risk being carried in relation to opening up travel particularly from higher risk countries.
This includes the radical reduction in the number of red list countries and the suggestion the UK Government is contemplating considerably relaxing the rules around quarantine from red list countries* and introducing the use lateral flow tests for returning travellers.
All of these measures, when taken together considerably increase the risk new variant being introduced into Wales and the UK.
*Countries Removed from the Red List – Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, Cape Verde, Chile, Congo (Democratic Republic), Costa Rica, Cuba, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, French Guiana, Georgia, Guyana, Indonesia, Lesotho, Malawi, Mayotte, Mexico, Mongolia, Montenegro, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Paraguay, Philippines, Reunion, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Suriname, Tanzania, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Uganda, Uruguay, Zambia, Zimbabwe
**List of Additional Recognised Vaccinations programmes – Albania, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Columbia, Chile, Egypt, Ghana, Georgia, Grenada, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Kosovo, Maldives, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, North Macedonia, Oman, Pakistan, Serbia, South Africa, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent & The Grenadines, Thailand, The Philippines, Turkey, Ukraine, United Nations and Vietnam.