Welsh Lib Dem Education Minister Kirsty Williams has announced Christmas travel plans for students.
Universities across Wales will also end face-to-face lessons in the week ending 8 December, allowing anyone who tests positive for coronavirus to self-isolate for 14 days before traveling home for the Christmas break.
New covid-19 lateral flow tests, designed to diagnose people without symptoms, will be provided to students who are planning to travel home for the holiday.
Students at universities in Wales who plan to travel home for the holidays will be asked to:
- minimise their social contacts in the run up to the end of term;
- get an asymptomatic test, ideally within 24 hours of their intended travel time. New asymptomatic testing facilities will be available at participating universities in Wales within the next few weeks;
- Plan to travel no later than 9 December, allowing time to rearrange their travel plans in case they need to self-isolate;
- familiarise themselves with their university’s plans for concluding in-person teaching and arrangements to ensure people can exit campuses safely.
The governments of England, Northern Ireland and Scotland will announce separately their plans for students living there. Each government has worked together in recent weeks on these matters. The Welsh Government will also communicate directly with Welsh students at universities elsewhere in the UK.
Kirsty Williams, the Education Minister, said:
“Many students will wish to return home for the Christmas break and I’m pleased to confirm arrangements to enable that. Our priority, and the priority for our universities, has been to enable students to travel home safely, while minimising the risk of transmission of the coronavirus.
“It’s also important students take action to minimise the chances they could bring the virus back home to friends and family members, who may be far more vulnerable to its effects. That’s why we’re asking students to limit their social contacts as they’re preparing to travel home. The more people socialise, the greater their risk of contracting coronavirus.
“We have been working with the other nations to ensure that all students, no matter where they live or study, are treated fairly and can travel home as safely as possible.
“We are also working with our universities to roll out the asymptomatic mass testing pilot before the end of term. I would encourage students to sign up for the testing pilot to make returning home at the end of term easier.
“I have been determined that students here in Wales are able to spend the holidays where they most want to, in a safe way, and these arrangements will allow that to happen.”
Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Jane Dodds Welcomed the announcement:
“Enabling students to return home safely for Christmas is a significant achievement and one that should not be underestimated. Kirsty Williams has championed this united approach and I’m pleased she has been able to make this announcement today.
"It’s pleasing to see all universities across Wales working together to work together to achieve this as well as the four governments of the UK working together at this difficult time.
“It’s fantastic to see Kirsty Williams and the Welsh Lib Dems helping families up and down the UK plan for a Christmas that is as normal as possible.”