FIRST minister Mark Drakeford has said he “deeply regrets” the UK Government’s decision to scrap the isolation period for people returning from countries on the amber list who have had both vaccine doses.
Mr Drakeford, who was giving an update following the latest three-week review of restrictions, said the issue of travelling abroad was the one issue the Welsh and UK Governments had clashed on most.
“I deeply regret the UK Government’s decision to remove the requirement for adults who have been fully vaccinated to self-isolate when returning from countries on the amber list,” he said.
“The risk of re-importing the virus or a new variant of the virus is real, but we have no practical alternative but to follow.
“It would be untenable, as the chief medical officer says, for Wales to adopt a different border health policy.
“Everyone returning from an amber list country to Wales must take a PCR test on day two, and we will be clear in Wales that people who have visited an amber list country should not visit a hospital or a care home until the normal self-isolation period would have been expended.”
These rules will be applicable from July 19, and under-18s are exempt.
“I want to be clear that the advice of the Welsh Government has not changed,” Mr Drakeford said. “We continue to advise against all but essential travel abroad.
“This is the year to holiday at home.”
When asked further about the subject, Mr Drakeford said: “Three quarters of people who travel abroad from Wales do so from airports outside Wales.
“If we were to try and have a rule in Wales that you couldn’t travel abroad to amber list countries, people would simply go to airports elsewhere and do it anyway.
“So we’re not going to do that.
“I do think that going abroad on holiday this year, it’s not an essential thing. It’s a matter of choice and it’s a choice that puts other people at risk here in Wales.”
When asked if he thought the UK Government was being reckless by introducing the changes, Mr Drakeford said: “Of all the things that we have dealt with together, this is probably the area where we have had the biggest disagreements with the UK government
“We would have put everybody on a red list and only allowed travel by exception. We would have put India on the red list far earlier than the UK government did.
“It has been a series of decisions where we would have taken a more precautionary approach.
“I’m not going to say people are being reckless, because although they’ve taken a different view they would have weighed it up and come to their conclusions.
“We would have done it differently.”