UK Transport Secretary accuses Welsh Government of wanting to ‘pile on’ Covid restrictions on travellers
The UK Transport Secretary has accused the Welsh Government of wanting to “pile on” Covid restrictions on international travellers.
Grant Shapps was responding to the Welsh Government’s opposition to the decision taken by the UK Government to end all Covid travel restrictions in time for the Easter holidays.
The Health Minister Eluned Morgan has said yesterday that she was “extremely disappointed” by the move and feared that Wales would be left defenceless against a new Covid strain.
But speaking in the House of Commons today, Grant Shapps responded: “Yesterday, it became apparent that the Labour Government in Wales were less than chuffed with the idea of removing those final measures.
“Indeed, they want to continue to pile on the costs, bureaucracy and red tape of passenger locator forms, even though they are past their point of relevance.
“That is what the Labour Government want to do in Wales, and therefore we should not take lectures on how to improve things for the industry.
“I would have thought that being the first major economy in the world to make travel covid-free in terms of removing those forms would have been warmly welcomed, and I think the Welsh Government could do the same.”
Eluned Morgan said yesterday that due to the “significant practical difficulties associated with diverging from the arrangements in England” Wales would “reluctantly” align itself with them.
But she warned that the pandemic was “not over” and there was “a risk new variants of concern may emerge and we need to be prepared for this eventuality”.
“We believe the UK must collectively maintain an operable suite of border health measures, including pre-departure tests, flight bans, home isolation and isolation hotels to help us manage coronavirus threats into the future and ensure all UK nations are able to respond quickly to any new and emerging threat – such as a new variant of concern entering the UK.
“A system of surveillance linked to international travel is vital to help us identify any new variant quickly and as early as possible. Previous decisions to amend the border health measures, led by the UK Government, have significantly limited our ability to respond effectively. And the decision by the UK Government not to fund a border surveillance programmes will significantly limit our ability to identify new coronavirus variants.
“As countries around the world scale back their testing and sequencing measures in the future, this ability to identify new variants diminishes even further.
“We continue to advocate a more precautionary approach towards retaining these public health protections because of the ongoing risk of importing new variants through international travel. ”
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