Can I travel to Wales under the new Covid rules?

As England prepares to come out of national lockdown, travellers’ thoughts are turning to possible UK holiday destinations during the festive season.

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, new restrictions for Wales were announced on 30 November, which mainly affect the hospitality sector.

Here’s everything you need to know.

Am I allowed to travel to Wales from England?

This remains to be seen. Until 2 December, England is still under national lockdown, which means that all recreational travel is prohibited. Only “essential” travel is permitted, such as for work and education, for medical procedures or for other caring responsibilities.

From 2 December, when national lockdown lifts, England will revert to the three-tier system, in which regions are allocated a tier and accompanying rules depending on the prevalence of coronavirus. Those in Tier 1 and Tier 2 will be allowed to travel freely around England (other than to Tier 3 areas, which should be avoided if possible).

However, the Welsh government has said that travel from England to Wales is currently banned unless you have a “reasonable excuse”.  

“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,” say the guidelines.

“People travelling to Wales from elsewhere in the UK or from abroad must have a reasonable excuse to enter and remain in Wales and must follow all relevant regulations in force in Wales.”

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford also announced that a new raft of measures will be coming into force in Wales from 6pm on Friday 4 December.

He said in a speech on 30 November: “The English lockdown will end on Wednesday this week. In that context we are looking at travel restrictions in and out of Wales and will make a further announcement later this week.”

Can I travel within Wales if I live there?

There has been no mention of imposing rules against travelling within the country thus far.

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 or internationally from Wales?

Not without a good excuse. Travel out of Wales is still only allowed “under limited circumstances”, such as for work or education.  

“We know this will be disappointing but travelling out of Wales for a holiday is not one of the permitted reasons under the Regulations,” says the Welsh government. “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?

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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.”

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.

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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