Can I visit Wales? Latest travel advice as the ‘stay local’ rule is lifted

Wales has lifted the ‘stay local’ rule and residents can now travel anywhere within the country. 

Self-contained accommodation was permitted to reopen to people in Wales on March 27 enabling domestic holidays. However, travelling in and out of Wales is not permitted, except in certain circumstances. 

April 12 is the earliest at which holidays in Wales for people from other parts of the UK will be allowed. 

Within Wales, up to six people from two different households can now meet outdoors and the outdoor areas of some historic places and gardens have reopened.

In a statement, the Welsh First Minister, Mark Drakeford said: “Thanks to a real team effort across Wales, coronavirus cases remain stable. We have the headroom to continue our careful, step-by-step approach to relaxing restrictions.

“Stay local will be lifted, and for the next 2 weeks people living in Wales can travel around Wales – this is to help keep the virus under control. We’ll keep this under review and if the public health situation remains positive, travel in and out of Wales will resume 12 April.” 

Self-catering breaks in Wales have restarted ahead of those of England (where an April 12 restart is planned, as detailed in the UK Government’s roadmap out of lockdown). 

This does not mean English holidaymakers can cross the border to stay in Wales. “The rules in England will not permit that. The Prime Minister’s roadmap says that for the weeks after March 29, people should minimise travel, there are to be no holidays, and people won’t be allowed to stay away from home overnight. If it won’t be safe to stay overnight in England, then obviously it would not be safe for people to travel into Wales,” said Mr Drakeford, who warned the reopening of tourism would stop if holiday providers were found to be taking bookings from people in England.

Here, we answer the key questions about travel to Wales. 

What are the lockdown rules in Wales?

The following restrictions relating to travel and tourism apply until April 2: 

  • From March 22 – Non-essential retail will be allowed to reopen
  • The ‘stay local’ message ended on March 27: people are allowed to travel anywhere within the country
  • Self-contained accommodation reopened on March 27
  • When outdoors, people are advised to wear a face mask in public places
  • All indoor and outdoor events are cancelled and visitor attractions are shut
  • House parties, events and gatherings are unlawful
  • Hospitality, such as bars and restaurants, remains closed

When will hospitality reopen in Wales?

Mr Drakeford said on Mar 28 that he hoped people will be able to enjoy outdoor hospitality by the end of next month.

“Meeting indoors, we know, is always more dangerous, that’s likely to have to wait until May,” he told Andrew Marr on the BBC.

He said he will outline the lifting of coronavirus restrictions on Apr 1 for the whole of the month and into May, which he said should give businesses some certainty around reopening.

Pubs and restaurants were not mentioned in the latest announcement on restrictions. Mr Drakeford said on March 12 they would also not be included in the next two reviews. 

“The industry was clear that they didn’t want to be left in the dark,” he said. 

“That is why I was clear with them that in the next six weeks our priorities will continue to be children and education, whether it is possible to open some non-essential retail, if there is any prospect of even a modest resumption in the tourism industry. Hospitality, if we can accomplish that successfully, their turn will come.”

He added that the hospitality sector had said it did not want a stop-and-start approach to reopening.

pembrokeshire coast


Pembrokeshire is among the holiday spots that has seen a spike in interest


Credit: Getty

When will Wales welcome tourists? 

Wales often took a tougher stance than England towards Covid restrictions in 2020. This included a temporary ban on travel from Wales to England. 

A new approach to travel between Wales and other areas of the UK could be introduced when non-essential trips are permitted, but for now English holidaymakers will not be able to visit Wales over Easter. 

April 12 is the earliest date at which travel in and out of Wales, except in certain circumstances, will be permitted.

Should I book a holiday in Wales?

If you plan to visit Wales from elsewhere in the UK after April 12, to do so would come with the risk that your holiday could not go ahead and that you might lose some, or all of, the money you had paid towards it.

While self-contained accommodation gas reopened to residents of Wales, it will not be open to those elsewhere in the UK, where other rules on travel apply.

Those in Wales who plan to take a chance on booking a self-catering break with their household should pay careful attention to the refund policy of their accommodation provider, as restrictions can change swiftly.

Residents of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland are subject to restrictions on travel in their own country.

April 12 is the earliest date at which people in England will be permitted to take domestic breaks with their own household. This is when self-catering accommodation in England may be able to reopen.

Restrictions on travel into and around Wales can also have an impact. Mr Drakeford suggested that Wales will seek to avoid the resurgence of infection rates in low incidence areas through travel from high incidence areas of the UK. This could impact those in England, Scotland or Northern Ireland who book a holiday in the country.

It is not yet clear how “high incidence” areas will be determined for travel from England. Last year, the UK Government’s Tier system was used as a reference. Under the UK Government’s roadmap, England’s reopening is designed to happen uniformly across the country with no return to the Tier system. 

Read more: When can I go on holiday abroad?

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