Police to patrol routes out of Wales during firebreaker lockdown

24 October 2020, 07:30 | Updated: 24 October 2020, 09:47

Wales is under a two week national lockdown
Wales is under a two week national lockdown. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

Police in England will attempt to block non-essential journeys out of Wales while the country is under a two-week firebreak lockdown.

Gloucestershire Constabulary confirmed they will patrol routes into the Forest of Dean area and pull over vehicles they suspect of making long journeys.

The force said drivers who turned out to have driven out of Wales without a valid excuse would be advised to turn around and, if they refused, would then be reported to police in Wales who can issue fines.

Read more: Welsh supermarkets told to sell ‘essential’ items only as 'firebreak' starts at 6pm

Read more: Wales enters firebreak lockdown as UK’s Covid cases drop for second day in a row

It said it would form part of a wider police operation in response to high numbers of people from outside the Forest of Dean area visiting Cannop cycle centre and causing congestion by parking on grass verges near it.

A spokesman for the force said on Friday: "While we cannot issue fines to those travelling from Wales into the county we can inform the host force of those we stop about what has happened so they can take action.

"Officers will be running an operation from tomorrow and over the weekend that will cover routes from Wales into the Forest of Dean and if we stop someone travelling from Wales we will be engaging with them to find out why, explaining the legislation and encouraging them to turn around if we are not satisfied with their explanation.

"If they don't turn around we will then inform the force that polices the area they have travelled from so that they can issue a fine.

"It is important to stress that the vast majority of people are abiding by the rules but, in line with our policing approach, we will take action where there are flagrant breaches."

The 17-day firebreak lockdown began at 6pm on Friday.

People in the country are being asked to stay at home for over two weeks and only leave the house for shopping and essential travel.

Non-essential shops, pubs and restaurants have been closed and people are banned from socialising outside their own household until 9 November.

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford warned that hundreds more people would die from coronavirus across Wales "unless we act now to bring this deadly disease under control".

Read more: Wales brings 'fire-breaker' lockdown into force to curb Covid-19

Read more: What does a national 'fire break' in Wales mean for you?

It signals a departure from England and Scotland, who continue to opt for a tiered system of regional restrictions to combat the virus.

The UK Government warned earlier this week that a full national lockdown would risk severe economic damage as the UK heads into Winter.

Speaking ahead of lockdown on Friday, the Welsh First Minister the public's compliance with the newest set of restrictions, which came into force at 6pm, would give hope that the country could "enjoy a version" of Christmas in two months time.