Coronavirus: Wales imposes travel ban on visitors to high-risk areas of UK

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The Welsh government is preparing to ban people living in virus hotspots across the rest of the UK from traveling to the country.

In a dramatic escalation of restrictions, Prime Minister Mark Drakeford said he was taking urgent action after Boris Johnson failed to respond to two letters asking No 10 to introduce the measure across the UK to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Under regulations being prepared by the Welsh government, people living in areas with high levels of the virus in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland will not be able to travel to the country after 6 p.m. on Friday.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Mr Drakeford said: ‘Evidence from public health professionals suggests the coronavirus is moving east to west across the UK and Wales.

“Typically, it concentrates in urban areas and then spreads to less populated areas due to the movement of people.”

He continued: ‘Much of Wales is now under local restriction measures as virus levels have increased and people in those areas are unable to travel beyond their country’s borders without reasonable excuse. This is designed to prevent the spread of the infection in Wales and other parts of the UK.

“We are preparing to take this step to prevent people who live in areas with higher Covid infection rates across the UK from traveling to Wales and bringing the virus with them.”

Mark Bleasdale, Welsh Police Federation of England and Wales official, questioned whether the travel ban would be enforceable at a time when forces are already “overwhelmed” due to the pandemic.

“At first glance, this is inapplicable due to the difficulty of identifying where people are coming from and where they are going,” Mr. Bleasdale said. “There will also be a lot of people traveling legitimately from areas that are not at high risk. , and this will only compound the other difficulties that officers face when monitoring existing regulations. “

But Mr Drakeford said fixed penalty notices could be issued for motorists who refuse to comply. He told Times Radio that many drivers crossing Wales had been turned back earlier in the year when a five-mile travel limit was in place.

“There were a small number of people who were unwilling to do this and fixed penalty notices had to be applied,” Drakeford said. “But it was applied very successfully back then, and it can be applied very successfully. “

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she fully supports Mr Drakeford. “These are public health decisions, and nothing to do with our constitutional or political debates,” she said.

Ms Sturgeon alluded to the imposition of similar measures, insisting that the Scottish government ‘will also take whatever action we deem necessary to control Covid’.

It comes after the Welsh Prime Minister said he was ‘speaking very actively and preparing’ for a circuit breaker lockout, adding that he did not think it would be wise for ministers to reject the Scientific Advisory Group advice for emergencies (Sage). who recommended drastic action three weeks ago.

“We want to act now to prevent the worst from happening, to give ourselves a better chance of getting through the rest of fall and winter, and if a circuit breaker is the right way to do it, this is it.” that we will do, ”he said.

So far the UK government has resisted pressure to impose similar measures across England and remains committed to a regional approach based on the three-tier system unveiled on Monday.

Pressed on the Prime Minister’s Question by Sir Keir Starmer, who on Tuesday announced Labor’s support for a breaker lockout, Mr Johnson said he could not rule out the option but insisted it ‘he wanted to avoid the “disaster” and “misery” of a second national lockout.

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