People will be able to travel from Wales to tier one and two areas in England and Scotland from Friday.
The new regulations prohibit travel into tier three zones in England, tiers three and four in Scotland and the whole of Northern Ireland.
Previously people could
only travel out of Wales if it was “essential”.
But the Welsh Government said it still strongly advised people against travelling to other parts of the UK to help control the spread of the virus.
England’s lockdown ended on 2 December and it now has a
The Scottish government has a
five-level alert system
of Covid-19 restrictions.
It means for people in Wales, travel to London will be possible, but not Birmingham or Bristol.
Large parts of the Midlands, North East and North West, including Manchester, as well as Kent,
are in tier three.
A majority of England is in the second highest level – tier two – including London and Liverpool city region.
The new regulations were announced after the cabinet met on Wednesday to decide on the latest travel restrictions as England’s lockdown came to an end.
It comes as Welsh pubs, restaurants and cafes face a
ban on serving alcohol on their premises
from Friday and will be unable to open to customers beyond 18:00 GMT.
Mandy Symonds has owned The Boat Inn in the border town of Chepstow in Monmouthshire for 18 months.
She said she was “gutted” when she realised the new regulations meant her customers could go into England – “a 20 second walk away” – to drink alcohol in a pub when she could not serve them any.
“I’m closing… everything’s stacked against you,” she said.
“It’s a mockery. I feel like he [First Minister Mark Drakeford] is deliberately trying to drive us out of business.
“The rules should be the same all over the country…
“I’ve spent so much money here, invested in a marquee and put heating in there, lost half our tables, put screens up, staff are wearing masks, there’s track and trace… I feel beaten down over it all now.”
She said she did not know when she would reopen but it would depend on restrictions.
Boundary Lane in Saltney is the border between Wales and England.
Claire Davenport lives in Flintshire but works on the English side of the border. She said the lifting of travel restrictions would not affect her too much.
“My family tend to keep within Wales and don’t go into England really because we’ve got Broughton shopping park. But it was hectic there on Monday with people from England coming in,” she said.
Veronica Gay, who represents Saltney on Flintshire council, said: “My heart goes out to people who live on the border because you have a routine and you don’t even think about it.
“You don’t think ‘now I’m in England’ or ‘now I’m in Wales’. It’s been so confusing.
“But the people on Boundary Lane on the Welsh side haven’t been able to go to Asda just across the road on the England side.”
‘Salt in the wounds’
Conservative member of the Senedd (MS) Darren Millar said: “While any lifting of travel restrictions between Wales and England is to be welcomed, there can be no doubt that this news will rub salt in the wounds of the Welsh hospitality industry.
“With Welsh pubs, cafes and restaurants being banned from selling alcohol on their premises from 6pm tomorrow, many of their customers will be taking their custom and cash across the border to enjoy a tipple with a meal in England instead.”
He urged the Welsh Government to “rethink its new rules” and “engage with leaders the hospitality industry”.
‘Back to business as usual’
Jeff Revill owns the Broadstone Park campsite, half of which is in Gloucestershire, England, and half in Monmouthshire, Wales.
He has faced issues such as guests on the English side of the site being unable to use the only shower block which is in Wales – after looking into it he was told it was an essential journey.
He said the new regulations made things easier for the business: “I can bounce between the two borders now… it means we can get our glamping pods open again and there would be no issue [in people staying at the site] popping to Monmouth and back.
“It will be back to business as usual… hopefully we can pick up a little bit of business now heading into the spring.”
The easing of restrictions comes ahead of additional rules for Christmas, when
three households from around the UK
will be able to meet from 23 December until at least 27 December.
‘Trying to be sensible’
The new regulations mean Frank and Margaret Clarke, who live in Mold, Flintshire, are able to travel to Churton in Cheshire – which is in tier two – where their son and his family live.
But they said they were unsure what the new rules meant for seeing their grandchildren, aged six, four and six months.
“We have been on WhatsApp and FaceTime… our daughter in law had a baby but we haven’t been able to go over and help,” said Mr Clarke.
“It’s been a difficult time for us – we can go and see them but we can’t go inside and we’re not sure if they can come into our house.
“We are trying to be sensible because of our age.”
Geoffrey Shone, 65, from Rossett in Wrexham, said he found the rules too difficult to understand.
“I don’t understand half the rules properly. It’s the way they are put,” he said.
He said he did not know if the rules meant he could see his cousins over the border in Dodleston, Cheshire – that area is in tier two so under the new rules he could travel there.
‘Coronavirus doesn’t respect borders’
First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “There will be no restrictions on travel within Wales but we need to have some restrictions on travel across the border to those parts of the UK where infection rates are high to prevent the spread of coronavirus.”
He advised people in Wales not to travel into parts of England and Scotland where the infection rate is lower, “to help prevent them taking coronavirus with them”.
“Coronavirus doesn’t respect borders,” he said.
“We all have a part to play in keeping Wales and the UK safe.
“Please think carefully about where you are going and what you are doing. This virus thrives wherever we come together with others.”
The Welsh Government said the travel restrictions were likely to remain in place until at least January but will be kept under constant review.
International travel restrictions will continue and are also likely to remain in place until at least January but will be kept under constant review, it added.