Posted: Mon 5th Oct 2020

First Minister still looks to England to ‘replicate’ Welsh travel restrictions as legislating against named English hotspot areas ‘the wrong way to solve problem’ for people living in or visiting the Wrexham area
This article is old - Published: Monday, Oct 5th, 2020

The First Minister has said Coronavirus Regulations could be used as a route to prevent those travelling to Wales from hotspots in England, but it would be the ‘wrong way to solve the problem’.

Last week the First Minister Mark Drakeford said he had written to the Prime Minister making such a request to prevent travel, however that was first rejected during a Prime Minister Questions session, and then later in the week PM Johnson said he had heard the plea ‘loud and clear’ but again rejected it.

On Friday the First Minister spoke about the travel issue into Wales from England with it being explained it is hard to take action against the country as a whole: “In England they have large areas where the position is much more difficult than Wales, but they have other areas where there are fewer cases in circulation. If you divide all the virus by all the population in England, you come with a lower figure than you do in Wales. But if you were to take the north of England, and take the areas that are closest to Wales, and the figures there are higher than Wales as a whole.”

Last week we pointed out if Cheshire’s stats were in a foreign country then a quarantine would be in place, or if it was in Wales a lockdown would be in place. The Health Minister agreed back then, “You are right to point out if those counties were a different country, then there would be quarantine arrangements for people who have traveled from that country into any part of the UK.”

In the Coronavirus Regulations Wrexham County Borough has been added along with Flintshire County Borough and other areas that are now in localised lockdown.

Llanelli has also been included, by defining several specific electoral ward areas to make up a legal definition of that local lockdown area:

Other sub-areas have also been defined, for example Mykonos specifically rather than all of Greece.

With a reluctance to add England to the Coronavirus Regulations for Wales, be it as a quarantine country or otherwise, we asked the First Minister about smaller individual areas being named, and what stopped that same framework being used to name lockdown areas in England in Welsh regulations. We also asked for clarity, “Are you saying you can’t legislate like that, or won’t?”

The First Minister replied, “There are steps we could take. So it’s not that we can’t, I just think that that is the wrong way to solve the problem.”

“The right way is for the Prime Minister to take responsibility and to do in England what we’ve done in Wales, that’s my first port of call. That’s why I have written to him.

“You will remember that back in the summer where we had a stay local rule and people coming into Wales from England were only really able to travel five miles into Wales, and North Wales Police did a fantastic job in explaining that to people who sometimes came across our border without understanding that the rules were different here.

“What they always said to me was when they had those conversations, explained why those rules were in place, most people were very willing to return and to not attempt to make onward journey.”

“So we could do it using our own powers and our own regulations, but I think the better way is for England to replicate the position we have here in Wales.”

Top border pic: Holt and Farndon, Wrexham and Cheshire, Wales and England.

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