First Minister asks UK Government to urgently limit people in English hotspots from travelling to Wales
The First Minister has written to Prime Minister Johnson to “introduce urgent travel restrictions in areas with high infection rates” as is in place in Wales.
It comes amid concerns of tourists travelling or holidaying in Wales from from areas under local lockdown in England.
Last week it was reported that a coach load of tourists from Bolton, which is under tighter restrictions, had travelled to Bridgend – an area which was also about to enter a local lockdown.
However the 30 holidaymakers were turned away and were later reported to have been diverted to Tenby.
Today the issue was raised during a Senedd session earlier today, when Leader of Plaid Cymru asked the First Minister Mark Drakeford, “Many of us will have been surprised and somewhat alarmed at the scenes from the top of Snowdon over the weekend, with long queues of people attempting to reach the summit with complete disregard, it would appear, for social distancing guidelines, but it raises a wider issue of course.
“Many of these will have been visitors and there’s nothing set out in the guidelines at the moment that stops someone from a COVID hotspot elsewhere in the UK travelling to areas of Wales currently with low community transmission.
“Why is it the case, First Minister, that you can’t travel from Aberafan to Abergavenny, but you can travel from Manchester to Mynytho?”
First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “Can I begin by agreeing with Adam Price that those were alarming pictures? Let me make a number of points in reply, however.
“To begin with, it’s really important and we’ve had lots of anxiety over the summer in holiday destinations about people travelling from elsewhere in the United Kingdom and the risk that that might pose to the spread of the virus in those areas.
“Actually, the evidence has turned out to be much more positive than that and we don’t have examples where the virus has got out of control in those holiday areas because it’s been imported from elsewhere.”
“I think it’s very important to be guided by the evidence and the evidence is that that hasn’t caused difficulties, and I think that that is a tribute to two things: it is because people have heard our message about, ‘Visit Wales safely’, and it’s a tribute to the efforts that have been made in those communities to welcome people from elsewhere, which is so important to the local economy, while doing it in a way that does not cause a risk to public health.”
“I think the Member makes an important point. In Wales, when we get a hotspot area, we ask people not to travel outside that area other than for certain narrowly specified purposes, and going on holiday is not one of them.
“I wrote to the Prime Minister yesterday urging him to do the same in England. I don’t think it is right for us to institute a set of border controls trying to prevent people from elsewhere visiting Wales: I think that would lead us into all sorts of anomalous and difficult territory.
“But I do think that as we act to prevent people who live in hotspots in Wales from travelling to England and taking the risk of the virus with them, so the Prime Minister in his capacity as the Prime Minister of England in this case ought to do the same to prevent people from English hotspots from travelling elsewhere in England to Wales or other parts of the United Kingdom because of the risk that that undoubtedly poses.
“I wrote to him yesterday asking him to do that, urging him to call a COBRA meeting for this week, as the First Minister of Scotland did at the weekend, and I look forward to a reply.”
Later the First Minister published the letter:
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