Welsh First Minister offers PM 'final opportunity' to issue travel ban

13 October 2020, 15:38

The letter has been described by Mr Drakeford as "one final opportunity"
The letter has been described by Mr Drakeford as "one final opportunity". Picture: PA

By Matt Drake

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has written to Boris Johnson to claim a lack of travel restrictions for English lockdown areas is "undermining" Wales's ability to control the spread of coronavirus.

The letter has been described by Mr Drakeford as "one final opportunity" for the Prime Minister to prevent people living under lockdown in England from being able to travel to areas of Wales where levels of the virus are low.

The First Minister said he would share evidence that travelling from areas with high prevalence of Covid-19 into areas with low prevalence contributes to the spread of the virus, and would be prepared to block entry into the country.

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His letter said: "The evidence against allowing travel from high-prevalence areas is clear. Examination shows the infection, as a general rule, concentrating in urban areas and then spreading to more sparsely populated areas as a result of travel.

"Much of Wales is now under local restriction measures and people living in those areas are prohibited from travelling outside their county boundary without a reasonable excuse. This measure is designed to prevent the spread of infection within Wales and to other areas of the UK.

"Our efforts are being undermined by travellers from high-prevalence areas in other parts of the UK travelling to Wales."

Mr Drakeford continued: "If you fail to introduce the sort of measures we have already introduced in Wales, it will make this an issue which will undermine rather than support the successful operation of the border region."

Downing Street rejected Mr Drakeford's call for a ban on people from high-risk areas of England crossing the border.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "There are no physical borders between Wales and England.

"What we have done is publish guidance which is very clear that people from very high-risk areas such as Merseyside should avoid travelling in or out of the area.

"We have also made it very clear to the public that they should follow any local guidance which is issued by devolved administrations."

There have been a further 764 cases of Covid-19 in Wales, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 31,370.

Public Health Wales said five further deaths had been reported, with the total number of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic rising to 1,678.

A further 87 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 30,594, NHS England said on Tuesday.

Patients were aged between 30 and 96 years old. All but six patients, aged between 72 and 86, had known underlying health conditions.

The deaths were between October 6 and October 12. Most were on or after October 10.

Three other deaths were reported with no positive Covid-19 test result.

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