Thursday, 29 Oct 2020

Close Welsh border! First Minister warns No10 he WILL seal off Wales from COVID surge

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Mark Drakeford has urged the Prime Minister to introduce restrictions to prevent people from English coronavirus hotspots crossing the Welsh border. The First Minister has confirmed he will write to Boris Johnson today to give him “one final opportunity to do the right thing”.

Mr Drakeford fears without new measures, cases of COVID-19 could quickly soar in areas of Wales with low infection rates.

He said closing the Welsh border was “not the preferred option”, but extra steps must be taken to curb the spread of the virus.

He said: “North Wales Police cannot stop someone and turn them around simply because they’re not following guidance.

“We need rules that prevent people from high incidence areas coming into Wales, to areas with low incidences of the virus.”

The First Minister said he would write to Mr Johnson and urge him to act with great urgency.

He said: “We’ve got that evidence, we’ll share it with the Prime Minister.

“I will set out the powers that we have, and if he doesn’t act, we’ll use them.

“I want to give him one final opportunity to do the right thing. Because that would be fair to people in Wales and people across the border.

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“The Prime Minister needs to act.

He has the power, he has the authority, what he lacks is the willingness. He needs to find that.”

A Welsh Government spokesman said they want to receive a reply “within days”.

Welsh ministers have asked for travel from areas with high rates of coronavirus in England to be restricted, to prevent people visiting parts of Wales where lockdowns are not in force and where rates are lower.

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Parts of Wales under local lockdown are subject to travel restrictions and cannot go in or out of the areas concerned except for a limited set of reasons, including to go to work or school.

They are not even allowed to leave to go on holiday.

Welsh ministers want similar measures introduced in coronavirus hotspots in England, such as Liverpool which is under the Government’s new “very high” alert system.

But Mr Johnson only advised against nonessential travel from Merseyside, and did not make it illegal to travel in or out of the area.

When discussing the current situation in Wales, Mr Drakeford said the outlook was “mixed” and backed the use of local lockdowns as it wouldn’t make sense to introduce the same restrictions on areas with vastly different infection rates.

But he said his government would not hesitate to introduce further restrictions.

The First Minister said: “We have to watch the changing patterns.

“If the low incidence areas flare up and we have to take national action, we will.”

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