Wales travel: Am I allowed to visit, are hotels and restaurants open and what rules are in place?

Joanna Whitehead
Three Cliffs Bay on the Gower Peninsula: istock

Unreliable weather aside, Wales makes for a near-perfect staycation destination as far as Britons are concerned. In 2019 alone, the country welcomed 87 million day trippers from the rest of the UK, generating almost £3.5m. The tourism industry in Wales accounts for almost 10 per cent of the country’s workforce and has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Thankfully, restrictions are starting to ease. So, where can you go and when?

Here’s all the information you need to know.

Am I allowed to travel to Wales from the rest of the UK?

Yes. First minister Mark Drakeford announced on 10 July that Wales has set out a “phased timetable” to ease restrictions for parts of Wales’ visitor, hospitality, leisure and tourism sectors, with large swathes of the industry reopening the following day.

Can I travel within Wales?

Travel restrictions in Wales were lifted on 6 July so people – including visitors – can “travel as far as they like, for all purposes”, Drakeford said.

Are hotels and campsites open?

Partially. Self-contained holiday accommodation reopened from 11 July (although only for members of the same or extended family), alongside hotels and B&Bs with self-contained en suite facilities that can provide room service meals only. Caravan parks where accommodation is entirely self-contained can also open, but shared facilities onsite, such as shower and toilet blocks, laundry and leisure facilities, will remain closed.

Campsites with shared facilities can reopen from 25 July “if we make a success of the reopening of self-contained accommodation,” said Drakeford. “We need to make sure campsites in Wales are well prepared, are safe to reopen.

“They will have a fortnight now to prepare and then from 25 July, providing all is well, people will be able to use those facilities as well.”

Are restaurants, shops and attractions open?

As of 13 July, pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes are allowed to open outside only. Indoor attractions are also allowed to reopen, but a “small number of underground attractions”, such as Big Pit and Bounce Below, will remain closed. Shops, outdoor sports and leisure facilities are also open.

Staffed Cadw sites (which are responsible for many of Wales’ castles and ancient monuments), such as Conwy Castle, remain closed to the public, although as of 6 July a small selection of outdoor, unstaffed monuments reopened. The Italianate village of Portmeirion is also open.

The National Museum of Cardiff is expected to reopen on 24 August. The National Wool Museum and National Roman Legion Museum are expected to reopen on 1 September.

Speaking at the Welsh government’s daily press briefing on 10 July, Drakeford said: “I want to send a clear signal that, provided the reopening of outdoor hospitality goes well, and the state of the virus allows, indoor opening for pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants will resume from 3 August.”

What rules are in place?

People are required to comply with a two metre social distancing rule. The Welsh government states that “this remains the safest way to protect people’s health”.

People in Wales are being asked to wear three-layer face coverings, as recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO), on public transport and other situations where social distancing is not possible.

Health minister Vaughan Gething added that the guidance only applied to those who are not showing symptoms of coronavirus. “People who are symptomatic must continue to self-isolate for seven days and get a test,” he said.

“Wearing a face covering cannot be an excuse for ignoring social distancing measures,” he added.

The Welsh government’s Technical Advisory Cell (TAC) also advised members of the public to wear a face mask in busy shops.

Upon arrival into Wales, British visitors are not required to isolate for a quarantine period.

“Our ability to carry on lifting the restrictions rests on everyone in Wales – we need everyone’s help to continue following the rules to keep levels of coronavirus at an absolute minimum,” added Drakeford

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