Welsh government advises against non-essential overseas travel

The Welsh government is to urge people to travel overseas for essential reasons only for the next three weeks despite easing restrictions in line with England and Scotland, the BBC reports.

According to the report, Wales will introduce the traffic light system outlined by the UK government from Monday as it moves to ‘alert level two’.

However, ministers said international travel in the coming weeks should be for “essential purposes” only.

First minister Mark Drakeford told BBC Breakfast the advice was not legally binding as it would be “unenforceable” with Welsh residents mainly flying from English airports.

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But he said the advice was “clear” and that people should consider domestic holidays instead.

Drakeford also said that “extra assistance” including access to additional testing would be provided to those who decided to travel against the advice.

These “extra safeguards” are expected to apply to countries whose inclusion on the green list described as “more marginal”, including Portugal, Israel and Singapore.

The report confirmed a “paper-based vaccination status” would be available from May 24 for people in Wales who are fully vaccinated and require proof for urgent travel.

The scale of the reopening of international travel remained in doubt on Friday morning, with Portugal still yet to confirm if UK holidaymakers will be allowed to enter from Monday.

Portugal is the only mainstream destination included in the green list and restrictions currently prevent travel to most others.

Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said he was “pleased” Wales has announced that international travel can resume from May 17, but noted a “slow and cautious return”, the same criticism it has of decision makers in England and Scotland.

“The Welsh government must continue to engage with and support the industry through to recovery,” said Tanzer. “Using the traffic light system to manage risk, more destinations should open up in the next review of the country lists.”

Airport Operators Association chief executive Karen Dee agreed.

She said: “This is another important step to ensuring a four-nation approach on restarting aviation. Yet despite today’s announcement and Wales’s successful vaccine rollout, a meaningful restart of aviation is a significant way off due to so few countries on the green list.”

Pilots’ union Balpa also said Wales’ devolved government was being “over cautious” and its decision was a “further blow to the summer recovery of the travel industry”.

General secretary Brian Strutton said: “Airlines and airports and all in the travel sector, can’t keep changing plans at the drop of a hat.

“The vaccine roll out is going well and people are wanting to return to normality, but instead we have chaos and confusion.

“We should be a step closer to concrete dates for the re-opening of the US-UK corridor and global travel. Instead, we have further uncertainty and the farcical situation that the government isn’t even providing enough border control staff to operate the checks that it has insisted on.”

He said reports of doubts over whether Portugal will allow British travellers to enter when it is added to the green list from May 17 “highlights the lack of international cooperation”.

“It’s hard to see any co-ordination across the UK let alone in Europe and around the globe,” Strutton added.

“People need clarity, certainty and the confidence to book travel without the goal posts constantly moving. The sector can’t survive endlessly with no plan in sight.”

“This is another bitter blow that undermines all the work being done to rebuild public confidence and ensure the future of UK aviation.”

More: Covid restrictions on tourism in Wales start to be relaxed

‘Critical’ that UK nations are aligned for travel restart

Scotland adopts traffic-light travel system and 12 green list destinations

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