The governments of Wales and Northern Ireland have stated that their travel and testing policies will be consistent with the rest of the UK.
The measure will ensure a four-nation approach to the new guidelines, which were announced on Monday (24th January) by UK transport secretary Grant Shapps. Day 2 testing for fully vaccinated arrivals will be scrapped beginning 11th February, and those who are not fully vaccinated will be placed in self-isolation. Their demand for quarantine will be replaced with a requirement for testing.
For the first time since the outbreak of the epidemic, Welsh ministers have stopped warning people not to travel abroad for vacations. The change, according to first minister Mark Drakeford, is attributable to the Omicron wave fading and high vaccination rates. “We will no longer advise people to only travel overseas if their journey is essential,” he said.
“As we move beyond the Omicron wave of Covid-19 we will also see a greater opportunity for individuals to return to making decisions based on their own circumstances. On that basis, and because of the vaccination success set out above, we will no longer advise people to only travel overseas if their journey is essential.”
Drakeford criticized the UK government’s decision to loosen testing restrictions for returning travelers but said that because of the “practical difficulties” of pursuing a different strategy in Wales, officials are “reluctantly keeping alignment” with the decisions.
Fully vaccinated visitors returning to Wales will no longer be required to take a Covid test in the two days after their arrival as of February 11th. The Scottish administration also promised on Monday to harmonize its travel restrictions with those imposed by the UK government.
Northern Ireland’s executive stated in a statement on Tuesday (25th January) that it will follow Wales and Scotland’s lead. “The Department of Health has confirmed the removal of a number of travel restrictions for vaccinated travelers arriving into Northern Ireland,” it read.
“From 4 am on 11 February, fully vaccinated travelers arriving from non-red list countries will only have to complete a UK passenger locator form with no additional requirement for testing or isolation.
“Individuals who are not fully vaccinated will be required to complete a UK passenger locator form, take a pre-departure test 48 hours before arriving into Northern Ireland, and book and pay for a Day 2 PCR test. These individuals will only be required to self-isolate if they test positive following the Day 2 PCR test.”
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