Wales will put police on border to stop people from lockdown areas visiting

Danielle Sheridan
·3-min read
Mark Drakeford's comments came in an interview with The Telegraph -  Matthew Horwood/Getty Images Europe
Mark Drakeford's comments came in an interview with The Telegraph - Matthew Horwood/Getty Images Europe
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter

The First Minister of Wales has said he is prepared to put police on the border to stop English visitors from lockdown areas visiting the country. 

Speaking to The Telegraph Mark Drakeford hinted he would return to Wales' previous "Stay Local" law, which prevented people travelling more than five miles from their homes, as he announced that people living in areas in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland with a high prevalence of coronavirus would not be allowed into Wales from Friday at 6pm. 

He said: "We had a period earlier in the year where we had a 'Stay Local' regulation here in Wales. It meant anyone coming over the border into Wales was only able to travel five miles into Wales. Our police forces very successfully did end up stopping people who clearly were travelling across the border, explaining to people that the rules were different here."

A Senedd source confirmed that police would enforce the travel ban and added that any fines would be at "police discretion", adding: "Holidays and going to see your families won’t be a reasonable excuse to break the rules."

They confirmed that the former Stay Local rules would be reviewed.  

Mr Drakeford added that during the previous "Stay Local" regulations, the advice from Wales' chief constables was that once people understood the rules "they were prepared to turn round and go home again".

The First Minister's decision to implement a travel ban on people from hotspots came after Boris Johnson twice failed to respond to his letters, which he said was "not respectful". 

"I just think it makes such simple sense that it is a bit baffling as to why the Prime Minister seems to have dug his heels in," he said. "The sky in Wales is darkening as far as coronavirus is concerned."

Mr Drakeford added that "the weight of opinion in Wales" was to stop people from England travelling into the country as infection figures continue to rise. 

Three-tier postcode tool
Three-tier postcode tool

It comes as Nicola Sturgeon backed Mr Drakeford's call to restrict travel "between the four UK nations" from high prevalence areas "in one UK nation to lower prevalence in others".

Scotland's First Minister said she would write to Mr Johnson to "seek urgent talks on the issue". She later tweeted that "these are public health decisions, and nothing to do with constitutional or political debates" and confirmed that the Scottish Government would "also take whatever action we consider necessary to control Covid".

Ms Sturgeon also singled out Blackpool as an area to be avoided due to it being "associated with a large and growing number of Covid cases in Scotland". She said that while the resort was "a place that many Scots love and like to visit", it should be avoided due to its "high risk" classification.

However, council leaders and business representatives defended Blackpool's Covid-19 safety and said that it has lower coronavirus rates than many areas north of the border.

Jane Cole, the vice-president of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said "Blackpool has stringent Covid secure measures in place" and said the council “regularly visits its hotels, venues and attractions on a regular basis to ensure all are Covid compliant".

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland's First Minister announced a month-long "circuit breaker" lockdown after its department of health recorded a further 1,217 cases and four more deaths with Covid-19 on Wednesday.

Arlene Foster confirmed that from Friday the half-term holiday would be extended, that overnight says in other homes would be banned and that pubs and restaurants would only remain open if they offered a takeaway. Places of worship, shops and gyms will remain open.