Welsh Government ‘a constant drag’ on opening up aviation during Covid pandemic says UK Transport Secretary
The Welsh Government have been “a constant drag” on opening up aviation during the Covid pandemic, the UK Transport Secretary has said.
Grant Shapps was responding to criticism by Louise Haigh, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, who said that the UK Government had taken a “haphazard approach” to Covid restrictions on travelling abroad during the pandemic.
The Transport Secretary said that Labour’s own response had been to call for opening or closing “often on the same day or a few days apart” and then pointed to criticism of his approach by the Welsh Government.
“I understand that she has recently come to the post, but, if she does not mind my suggestion, there is one thing that she can do current day,” he said.
“She may be able to speak to her Welsh Labour governmental counterparts, who are a constant drag on opening up aviation. I hear that she is very keen that we move ahead with today’s plan; I hope she will be able to assist by persuading them to move a little more promptly.”
First Minister Mark Drakeford has been a vocal critic of the UK Government’s decisions to relax testing on international travellers and to take countries off the travel ban red list.
Speaking in October, he said at a press conference: “We regret the decisions the UK Government is making in relation to international travel.”
“We have long argued the UK Government shutdown built the defences higher against the importation of new variants of the virus from overseas.”
In September he said that the most recent changes were a “step away from the duty that the UK government owes to the health of people in this country”.
He added that Westminster’s handling of international travel as “among the most chaotic parts of its response” to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Grant Shapps’ criticism of the Welsh Government today came after he announced that in England passengers who do not qualify as fully vaccinated will no longer be required to do a day 8 test after arrival or to self-isolate.
They will still need to fill out a passenger locator form to demonstrate proof of a negative covid test taken two days before they travel, and they must still take a post-arrival PCR test, he said.
“This is a proportionate system that moves us a step closer to normality while maintaining vital public health protections,” he said.
“For kids travelling to the UK, under-18s will continue to be treated as eligible fully vaccinated passengers, which means that they will not face any tests at the UK border.
“Today I am pleased to confirm that from 3 February, 12 to 15-year-olds in England will be able to prove their vaccination status via the digital NHS pass for international outbound travel. Again, this should help families to plan holidays for February half-term.
“Reconnecting with key markets not only boosts the UK economy but will help the hard-hit aviation sector to take back to the skies, so I can also confirm that from 4 am on 11 February we will recognise, at the UK border, vaccine certificates from 16 further nations, including countries such as China and Mexico, bringing the vaccine recognition total to more than 180 countries and territories worldwide.”
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