Politics

Could Wales introduce an English lockdown travel ban?

England Wales travel lockdown
Source: Stefanik (via. Wikimedia Commons)
Mark Drakeford, Wales’ First Minister, wrote to Boris Johnson on Monday, October 28, asking him to introduce travel restrictions for people from local lockdown areas in England entering Wales.

In Wales, if you live in a local lockdown area, like Cardiff, it is illegal to travel from that area without a ‘reasonable excuse.’ However, there is no such rule in place for lockdown areas in England.

By Dewi Morris | Political Editor

This means that if you live in Knowsley, England, where the infection rate is 552 per 100k residents, you would be allowed to holiday in Wales. Whereas if you live in Caerphilly, which is under local lockdown with a rate of 39 cases per 100k residents, you are not allowed to leave the borough.

(Data from data.gov.uk for the seven days leading up to October 4).

Mark Drakeford told the Senedd:

“As we act to prevent people who live in hot spots in Wales from travelling to England, and taking the risk of the virus with them, so the Prime Minister ought to do the same to prevent people from English hot spots from travelling elsewhere because of the risk that that undoubtedly poses.”

Boris Johnson has not replied to Drakeford’s letter, however, he dismissed the idea in an interview, saying:

“I don’t want to impose travel restrictions within the UK generally … We are all one country, people should exercise their common sense.”

On September 30, Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader, Liz Saville-Roberts told the Prime Minister, “leisure travel from lockdown areas has got to stop.” Boris Johnson replied stating that “seeming illogicalities” are “inevitable”.

Concerns in rural Wales.

Ceredigion councillor, Paul Hinge, told the BBC that he was “being contacted on a daily basis by park owners worried that people traveling from ‘hot spot lockdown areas’ in the Midlands and the north west of England to Ceredigion could be bringing this pernicious virus with them”.

Much concern has also been raised after ITV’s This Morning hosted Simon Calder on the show, encouraging holidaymakers to visit west Wales. Many expressed their anger on Twitter, as west Wales currently has a low infection rate.

Does Wales have the power to impose a travel ban?

On Monday, October 5, Wales’ Health Minister, Vaughan Gething announced that if hot spot areas of England were countries Wales would have introduced quarantine regulations as it has done for other nations. However, Gething expressed he does not wish to impose regulations from areas where there are low cases in England. The Health Minister said:

“We’re having to consider how we use our powers to protect lower-prevalence areas of Wales but at the same time, we don’t want to take a whole-nation approach.”

Opinion in the Senedd seems to be split, with the Welsh Conservative leader, Andrew Davies, claiming that quarantine regulations between Wales and areas in the rest of the UK is a “dangerous slope.”

Plaid Cymru leader, Adam Price, is in favour of introducing restrictions for travelling from hot spot areas:

“At a time when we need to act quicker and smarter to eliminate the virus, it’s regrettable that it took the UK government’s negligent dismissal of travel restrictions to bounce the Welsh Government into action”.

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