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Number 10 Says It Is "Disappointed" At Welsh Government Plans To Close The Border To Visitors From England

Number 10 Says It Is 'Disappointed' At Welsh Government Plans To Close The Border To Visitors From England

The proposals would see new restrictions imposed from Friday evening

3 min read

Downing Street have hit out at "disappointing" plans by the Welsh Government to introduce border restrictions for visitors travelling from high-risk coronavirus areas, with the Police Federation of England and Wales also deeming the plans "unenforceable".

On Thursday, Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford confirmed that those living in coronavirus hotspots in England,Scotland and Northern Ireland would be banned from entering Wales from Friday evening in a bid to tackle infection rates.

Mr Drakeford said he was finalising plans which would allow the police to turn people away at the border unless they had a valid excuse for entering the country unless Boris Johnson agreed to impose similar restrictions.

The move represents the first time that people in England would be banned from entering Wales, with Mr Drakeford suggesting it would apply to anyone living in an area under Tier 2 or 3 lockdown rules.

The Labour politician said that travelling for work would still be permitted but that visiting for holidays or to visit family would not be a reasonable reason.

"As a general rule, it is concentrating in urban areas and then spreading to more sparsely populated areas as a result of people travelling," Mr Drakeford said.

"Much of Wales is now subject to local restriction measures because levels of the virus have risen and people living in those areas are not able to travel beyond their county boundary without a reasonable excuse. This is designed to prevent the spread of infection within Wales and to other areas of the UK.

"We are preparing to take this action to prevent people who live in areas where there are higher Covid infection rates across the UK from travelling to Wales and bringing the rules with them."

And the plans recieved the backing of Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who said she "fully supported" the move and indicated she was looking at similar plans for the Scottish border.

"These are public health decision, and nothing to do with constitutional or political debates," she tweeted. "[The Scottish Government will also take whatever action we consider necessary to control COVID."

But the plans have come under fire from Number 10, with a spokesperson for the Prime Minister saying it was "disappointing that the Welsh administration has chosed to act unilaterally".

Meanwhile, speaking to MPs on Thursday, Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg branded the proposals "unconstitutional".

He added: "What would you expect of a hard-left Labour government?"

"The approach to putting a border between England and Wales in unconstitutional and will place the police in an invidious position considering that they serve the whole of the United Kingdom.

"We are one single United Kingdom and we should not have...borders between different parts of the United Kingdom.

"And I'm afraid that is what you get when you vote for socialists."

The Welsh Government are yet to publish the full details of how the proposals would be enforced, but they also drew criticism from the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW), who claimed the plans would be "unenforceable".

Mark Bleasdale, the Welsh lead of the PFEW said the border plan would be "unenforceable because of the difficulty of identifying where people are coming from and where they are going to".

He added: "There will also be plenty of individuals travelling legitimately from areas which are not high risk, and this will only add to the other difficulties officers face when policing the existing regulations.

"Some areas of Wales are already in lockdown, and many individuals are already unable to travel in and out of counties unless they have a good reason.

"In other locations, provisions are more relaxed, so this proposed travel ban adds yet another level of complexity to policing."

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