Can I travel to Wales? Latest advice, rules and restrictions

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Wales has long been a top choice as a staycation destination; in 2019 alone, the nation welcomed 87 million day trippers from the rest of the UK, generating almost £3.5m.

However, there are new travel restrictions in place that dictates who can and can’t travel into and out of Wales, as well as how the hospitality sectors will work.

Here’s everything you need to know.

Am I allowed to travel to Wales from other parts of the UK?

It all depends on where you live.

The government of Wales announced new rules on 3 December that comes into effect at 6pm on 4 December and is expected to be in place until January 2021, though this will be kept under regular review.

Under the new rules, all travel between Wales and tier 3 areas in England, level 3 and 4 areas in Scotland and the whole of Northern Ireland, which is currently in lockdown, will be illegal.

Visitors from areas with lower infection rates will still need a “reasonable excuse” to enter Wales.

The guidance reads: “Travel in to Wales is not allowed without a reasonable excuse, for example travelling for work purposes. Visiting family and friends (other than as part of an extended household) or having a holiday is not currently considered a reasonable excuse, although we hope to be able to welcome you in the not too distant future.”

However, the rules will be temporarily suspended between 23 and 27 December (or an extra day on each side for Northern Ireland) as part of the Christmas travel window.

It means that during this period, there will be no legal travel restrictions for those needing to travel between England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Those travelling would still need to comply with other rules, such as social distancing and wearing face masks on public transport. There’s also a limit of three households per “Christmas bubble”.

Can I travel within Wales if I live there?

First Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed that there would be no travel restrictions within Wales and you can holiday in Wales as a Welsh resident.

However, the government is asking everyone to think carefully about the journeys they take and the people they meet.

“We should all think carefully about where we go and who we meet because the more places we go and the more people we meet, the greater the chances there are of catching coronavirus,” reads the guidance. “In particular it is also sensible to avoid travelling to and from areas with a higher incidence rate if you can.”

Can I travel to the rest of the UK and internationally from Wales?

While people in Wales are still legally allowed to travel to other parts of England and Scotland with lower levels of coronavirus, the government said it is “strongly” advising people not to. If they do travel, they will need to follow the local restrictions in place.

Travel to tier 3 areas in England, level 3 and 4 areas in Scotland and the whole of Northern Ireland is illegal.

International travel out of Wales is still only allowed “under limited circumstances”, such as for work or education; leisure travel is banned until January 2021, though this will be kept under review.

The Welsh government said: “Travel abroad is only permitted for people with a reasonable excuse.“We know this will be disappointing but travelling out of Wales for a holiday is not one of the permitted reasons under the Regulations. The Regulations are in place to protect you and your loved ones from coronavirus and to prevent the onward spread of the virus to other areas of Wales, the UK and other countries.”

The guidance recommends contacting your tour operator or travel provider if you are booked to go abroad, as well as your travel insurance provider.

Can I travel through Wales to reach another destination?

Yes, provided you have a “reasonable excuse”. This might include travelling along a road that passes through Wales (eg to travel from England to Ireland) where there is no other reasonable option to travel to their destination.

What are the new rules around hospitality?

From 6pm on Friday, new national measures will be introduced for hospitality and indoor entertainment attractions.

“Pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes will have to close by 6pm and will not be allowed to serve alcohol,” said Mr Drakeford. “After 6pm they will only be able to provide takeaway services.”

This has been confirmed in an official FAQ.

In general, food and drinks will be table service only. There will be a limit of four people per table, excluding children under 11, unless they’re all from the same household. Face covering should also be worn unless you are seated to eat or drink.

No alcohol can be sold between 10pm and 6am, whether in hotels or takeaways.

From the same date, indoor entertainment venues, including cinemas, bingo halls, bowling alleys, soft play centres, casinos, skating rinks and amusement arcades, will have to close, as will indoor visitor attractions such as museums, galleries, and heritage sites. However, outdoor visitor attractions will be able to remain open.

Are hotels and campsites open in Wales?

There has been no rule change announced with regards to accommodation. Since 9 November, all accommodation types have been permitted to open, including caravan park facilities such as toilet, shower, pot wash and laundry areas (which previously had to close), provided Covid-19 safety measures are put in place.

However, you can only share holiday accommodation with those you live with or are caring for or providing assistance to.

What other rules are in place?

The Welsh authorities are advising citizens to follow the rules below:

  • Stay out of each other’s homes, except in very limited circumstances

  • Limit the times you leave your home, and the distance you travel

  • When you do leave home, please try and be restrained in how many different people you see. It is better to see the same one or two people regularly than to see lots of different people occasionally

  • Maintain social distancing, including outdoors

  • Meet people outdoors rather than indoors where possible, even in circumstances where the law allows you to meet indoors

  • Work from home if you can

  • Wash your hands regularly and follow other advice on hygiene

  • Self-isolate if you show symptoms of coronavirus

Face coverings should also be work in all indoor public places, including on public transport.

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