Wales says it will BAN people from Covid hotspots in England travelling across the border from Friday – but how will they enforce it?
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford
Welsh ministers faced fury today after unveiling an extraordinary bid to ban people from coronavirus hotspots entering the country.
First Minister Mark Drakeford was accused of being obsessed with ‘banning the English’ after he announced the move saying people were ‘anxious and fearful’ about importing infection.
He put the blame for the action squarely on Boris Johnson, saying the PM had ignored two letters requesting he introduce travel restrictions in areas of England with high case rates.
But there were immediate questions about how the measure, due to come in from 6pm on Friday, can possibly be enforced.
Police commissioners in Wales suggested they could set up road blocks and follow up tips.
The drastic restrictions come after Nicola Sturgeon suggested she is also considering a ban, and warned Scots not to travel to Blackpool because 180 cases north of the border had been linked to the seaside town recently.
In Wales, there are 17 areas under higher local lockdowns, which include rules against entering or leaving the area without a reasonable excuse such as work or education.
However, currently people living in Covid-19 hotspots elsewhere in the UK are free to enter areas of Wales not under restrictions where levels of the virus are low.
Under regulations being prepared, people living in areas with high levels of coronavirus in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland will not be able to travel to Wales.
Mr Drakeford told the Welsh Parliament: ‘I have therefore asked for the necessary work to be brought forward, which would allow for devolved powers to be used to prevent people from travelling into Wales from high-prevalence areas of the United Kingdom.’
He said it was ‘important’ to emphasise that it was not an issue regarding the border between Wales and England but a ‘matter of fairness’.
‘We’ve already heard from the First Minister of Scotland and she’s eager to support what we’re trying to do here. Now is the time for the Prime Minister to do the same thing,’ Mr Drakeford told the Senedd.
‘If he isn’t willing to do so then the timetable is for us to use the powers in Wales by the end of the week.’
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The drastic restrictions come after Nicola Sturgeon (pictured today) suggested she is also considering a ban, and warned Scots not to travel to Blackpool because 180 cases north of the border had been linked to the seaside town recently
Ms Sturgeon earlier told the Scottish Government’s press briefing she supported Mr Drakeford’s push for travel restrictions to be imposed across the UK, and would not rule out imposing her own.
‘I want to be clear today that I back the calls from the First Minister of Wales and I’ll be writing to the Prime Minister today to seek urgent talks on that issue,’ she said.
Ms Sturgeon added: ‘On the specific about travel restrictions, if we think putting formal travel restrictions in places necessary, we will do that and I don’t rule that out – I don’t rule anything out.’
The chief executive of the Welsh NHS, Dr Andrew Goodall, said he would also ‘welcome any actions that help us have a control of the levels of community transmission’ when asked if he was in favour of the travel ban.
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