Posted: Mon 11th May 2020

First Minister Mark Drakeford ‘concerned’ over confusion between lockdown messaging in England and Wales

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Monday, May 11th, 2020

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Differences in the lockdown messaging between England and Wales is a cause for concern, First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford has said today.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson issued a pre-recorded ministerial update on Sunday evening where he set out some details of “a conditional plan” for easing lockdown measures.

The PM’s address was aimed to giving the public some hope about how and when the lockdown measures could end.

Although his statement did not explicitly say it, the majority of what the PM outlined was specific to just England.

So far there have been some small differences in policy between UK and devolved governments but, one key difference emerged on the back of Boris Johnson’s announcement on Sunday.

He said: “From this Wednesday, we want to encourage people to take more and even unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise ….. You can drive to other destinations” this is against lockdown rules Wales.

During a press briefing in Cardiff today, Mark Drakeford: “There has been lots of focus over the weekend about the differences in the way in which the regulations are being updated in Wales, and in other parts of the United Kingdom.”

The stay at home regulations remain in place, all parts of the United Kingdom are this week making very small adjustments to the current regulations, and those incremental changes all move in the same direction.

However, there are some differences in the messaging between England and Wales which I am concerned may cause confusion.”

The First Minister said: “We have concerns traffic flow into Wales could continue to increase as a result of the Prime Minister’s announcement that travel to exercise will be allowed in England.

Now I just wanted to be clear, in Wales it is Welsh law that apply us travelling to Wales to exercise is not to exercise locally.

We will use whatever means are available to convey this message including signs on the major roads and motorways and articles we hope to place in local newspapers across our border.”

Mr Drakeford also revealed there had been a “distinct” increase in traffic levels across Wales over the bank holiday weekend and a rise in alcohol related violence. 

He said: “This morning I received my weekly update from the four Police Chief Constables in Wales, as we do regularly from the Police and Crime commissioners

They have reported a distinct increase in activity over the bank holiday weekend particularly after many UK national newspapers last Thursday reported a major easing of the lockdown was just on the horizon.”

“They also saw an increase in alcohol related violence associated with VE Day celebrations and increased traffic across areas of the road network.”

You can watch the full press briefing here: 

North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones also said he was concerned that people in England will now be allowed to travel outside their local area to take exercise.

He said the UK government had created a “total shambles” and fears people from across the border will now be encouraged to head to the region’s mountains and coast.

Mr Jones said: “It’s going to be difficult to differentiate between people who live in North Wales and those who travel over the border. It’s a total shambles.

People from England can come here to have a picnic, go for a swim in the sea and our national parks where they can sunbathe all day or go for a walk.

We need to specify the travel for leisure and exercise in Wales is still non-essential and they still commit and offence by doing what is legal in England.

We need further guidance from Westminster and Cardiff.”

It’s clear UK’s four-nation lockdown strategy is creating confusion amongst the public.

Lockdown measures are a devolved matter in UK and ministers can’t enforce a UK-wide approach.

It means Wales will determine its own course out of lockdown and it will broadly be the same as the rest of the UK.

The fact Wales can make its own rules on lockdown measures has come as a bit of a surprise to some people and has added to the confusion, commenting on our Facebook page:

Lindsay said: “It’s ridiculous I can’t get my head round it. Boris Johnson is our prime minister like it or not, but he was put in charge by the people to lead our country, so the one time the country needs leading an everyone’s decided to separate an do there own thing.”

Clare said: “Considering we’re all supposed to be in this together..why is every nation now putting different lock down lifting measures in place.”

Howard said: “This is in my opinion a great example of why devolution does not work in the real world”.

Mike said: “I don’t disagree with the Welsh or Scottish ministers but I don’t remember having a vote for anybody other than one Prime Minister for the whole of the UK.”

Joanna said: “They may have changed the rules in England, but they need to realise that here in Wales we are still to remain the same. A ban on travel from England to Wales should be made clear to those traveling around at weekends.”

Teresa said: “We have even more reason to be confused. If you live a few miles from Chester, just over the border in North Wales. Nightmare! Plus, from an employment perspective, employers who may have sites in different locations in the UK, their employees, couples?, can only go to work if they both live & work in England. The disparity needs to stop, UK work together, forget the blasted politics. Now is not the time for scoring points.”

Chris said: “It doesn’t make sense to have different rules. Especially for those living in Wales/Scotland but working in England and children in school/childcare in England? What we don’t want is people coming to Wales for a little jolly, all that staying home and safe will just go out the bloody window. What’s the point.





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