Wales could still ban people from rest of UK visiting when firebreak ends

30 October 2020, 14:09

People travelling from the rest of the UK could still be banned from visiting Wales after the firebreak lockdown
People travelling from the rest of the UK could still be banned from visiting Wales after the firebreak lockdown. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

People living in the rest of the UK could still be banned from visiting Wales after the firebreak lockdown ends on 9 November, the Welsh First Minister has said.

The travel ban will continue to prevent people travelling from areas with high levels of coronavirus in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland from entering Wales.

First Minister Mark Drakeford told a press briefing he will keep the measure, that was introduced earlier this month, if transmission rates in the rest of the UK remain the same.

"I will want to study, over this weekend and into next week, the comparative incidence rates between Wales and parts of England which are under Tier 2 and Tier 3 restrictions," he said.

"The point of asking people in those places not to travel into Wales was because the rate of virus circulation in those places was so much more than it is here and I'm afraid there is still a significant gap between those places and Wales.

"If that remains the same, then we will expect to have a similar regime after 9 November as we had prior to 23 October because it just doesn't make sense to add to the difficulties we already face by the virus being imported from elsewhere."

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During the briefing, the first minister confirmed that shops, bars, restaurants and gyms will reopen in Wales when the firebreak lockdown ends.

Pupils will return to schools, churches and places of worship will be free to resume services and community centres will allow small groups to meet safely indoors.

People on low incomes who are asked to self-isolate following a positive coronavirus test or by contact tracing teams will be supported by two new schemes, Mr Drakeford announced.

This means social care staff, including personal assistants, will receive a top-up to their statutory sick pay and those on low incomes will receive a £500 self-isolation support payment.

Regulations will include a new offence of knowingly giving false information to contact tracers, a new duty to self-isolate, and a duty for employers to ensure they cannot "prevent an employee from following the advice to self-isolate".

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The first minister said he received a letter from Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier in the week regarding a discussion on a "common approach to Christmas".

"I have no interest at all in turning this into a competition between Wales and any other part of the United Kingdom," Mr Drakeford added.

"I have nothing but a positive wish to see those things succeed but what I do want to see is an opportunity to discuss these matters with the UK Government.

"The prime minister wrote to me at the start of this week and said that I would be receiving an invitation from Michael Gove to a discussion on a common approach to Christmas across the United Kingdom.

"We've done our best to try to secure that meeting this week. It hasn't yet been forthcoming."

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