Wales First Minister says "having no help from PM" forced him to impose travel ban

14 October 2020, 18:16 | Updated: 14 October 2020, 18:45

By Fiona Jones

First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford explained to LBC why he has created the first Covid 'border' by imposing a ban on people travelling to Wales from coronavirus hotspots.

First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford told Eddie Mair the new ruling will apply to those living in Tier 2 and 3 areas in England, and high risk places in Scotland and Northern Ireland; currently, he said, this means the "whole" of Northern Ireland.

"The thinking is very simple: we have parts of Wales where coronavirus is still in very low circulation, we have acted to prevent Welsh people from travelling to those areas," Mr Drakeford said, "I live in Cardiff, I'm not allowed to travel to Tenby in southwest Wales because the virus there is still at a very low pitch.

"All we have asked is for people in other parts of the United Kingdom to be in the same position. You can't travel from a high circulation area to a low circulation area because the risk is you will take the virus with you."

The First Minister said he has "tried hard" not to implement the first Covid border in the UK and has in fact tried to persuade the Prime Minister "simply to have in England the same rule we have here in Wales that nobody from a high circulation area no matter where that is should be able to travel to a low circulation area wherever that might be."

He said if the Prime Minister had cooperated and agreed, "we wouldn't have had a border issue at all."

"I feel I tried really hard to avoid it becoming a Wales versus other parts of the United Kingdom issue but I've had no help from the Prime Minister," he said, explaining that in the end, he had to take a decision to protect Welsh public health.

Mr Drakeford told LBC that from Friday police can "persuade and educate people" not to cross in to Wales and "if that doesn't work they can impose fixed penalty notices upon people." He said that turning people away would be the "last resort."

The First Minister listed the regions the new travel restrictions will currently apply to: "In England it'll be people who live in Tier 2 and Tier 3 areas, at the moment it will be the whole of Northern Ireland...in Scotland it will be those areas in the central belt where the Scottish Government has had to impose additional restrictions,

"They will be areas defined by the administrations in those parts of the country which we will then use to define people who will not be able, for public health reasons, to visit Wales at this time."