First Minister confirms he’ll defy Johnson and stop travel into Wales from Covid hotspots at 6pm

Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford. Picture by the Welsh Government

The First Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed that new regulations to stop people travelling from Covid-19 hotspots into Wales will come in 6pm Friday despite the UK Government’s opposition.

The action is being taken after Prime Minister Boris Johnson declined the First Minister’s requests to make advisory travel guidance in English coronavirus hotspots mandatory, he said.

Under the regulations, people living in areas with a high-prevalence of coronavirus in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland will not be able to travel to Wales for the time being.

The new travel regulations will enable people to travel for a limited number of reasons, such as for work.

They are being introduced to help prevent the virus spreading from high-prevalence areas to lower-prevalence communities, Mark Drakeford said.

“The number of coronavirus cases across Wales is growing and our health service is coming under pressure as more people fall ill,” he said.

“Much of Wales is now subject to local restrictions, which mean people living in these local health protection areas are not able to travel beyond their county boundaries without a reasonable excuse. These rules are designed to prevent the spread of infection within Wales and to other areas of the UK.

“To keep Wales safe, we are introducing these new, wider travel regulations to make it clear that people living in areas with a high prevalence of coronavirus in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland cannot travel to parts of Wales where there is low prevalence.

“It is vital we do all we can to keep communities, which have low levels of infection as safe as possible, and this sensible and necessary restriction will help prevent the virus moving from more urban, highly populated areas to more sparsely populated areas.”

 

‘Hard hit’

Local restrictions in place in Wales already mean people living in a local health protection area – usually a local authority area – are not able to enter of leave their area without a reasonable excuse. This is to prevent the spread of coronavirus to other parts of Wales and the UK.

The UK Government however have pushed back against the proposals, with Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg yesterday describing them as “unconstitutional”.#

Welsh Secretary Simon Hart meanwhile has called for clarification from Wales’ First Minister, Mark Drakeford, on the measures.

“I remain worried that, without rapid explanation, this approach risks stirring division and confusion in Wales,” he said.

“We both know that, in reality, communities in Wales are as hard hit by Covid-19 as English, Scottish, and Northern Irish communities.”

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