Welsh first minister offers PM ‘one final opportunity’ to issue travel ban

Mark Drakeford
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Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford is writing to Boris Johnson to offer him “one final opportunity” to restrict people from coronavirus hotspots in England from travelling into Wales.

Ultimatum

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

It comes following concerns that people in English lockdown areas are currently allowed to travel to areas of Wales where there are no restrictions in place and levels of the virus are low.

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In Wales, however, people under lockdown can only leave their areas for essential travel such as to go to work. The prime minister has so far refused to back Drakeford’s call to issue a travel ban for English residents living under lockdowns, leading the first minister to express “deep disappointment” after Monday’s Cobra meeting.

Speaking to BBC Wales on Monday evening, Drakeford said:

UK ministers were asking me today for the evidence that tells you that if people come from high areas to low areas, that spreads the virus. We’ve got that evidence, we’ll share that with the Prime Minister.

And I will set out in my letter the powers we have and, if he doesn’t act then, we will use them. But I want to offer him one final opportunity to do the right thing. Because that would be fair to people in Wales and people across our border.

I don’t want it to be a border issue. People in England in high incidence areas should not be going to low incidence areas in England, either.

“Livid”

Drakeford has been backed by Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price, who has said he is “livid” that Johnson was refusing to issue the travel restrictions.

Encouraging Drakeford to use Welsh powers to ban travel into the country, Price said on Twitter:

Begging letters to Tory Prime Ministers have never really worked for Wales. It’s time to stop waiting on Westminster and take action ourselves, instead.

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