London (Brussels Morning) As of Friday, travel to Wales will be banned for people coming from areas in the UK with the highest coronavirus cases.
Wales’ first minister Mark Drakeford announced the travel restrictions in light of inaction from Westminster. The ban will mean people could be barred from Northern Ireland and any area in England classed as tier 2 or tier 3 regions under the government’s new localised tier system. It will also cover parts of Scotland.
Policing the new measures would be difficult, according to the Welsh Police Federation’s head Mark Bleasdale.
“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”, he said.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has supported the move and said she would seek urgent talks with Westminster regarding UK-wide travel restrictions.
Drakeford has reportedly asked for restrictions in and out of the trouble spots on two occasions, but the UK government has so far refused. It has only requested Liverpool, classed as tier 3 and a very high-risk area, to avoid non-essential travel.
Drakeford said the evidence showed the virus to be moving east to west across the UK. While it is generally concentrated in urban areas, it has moved to sparser localities because of people’s movements.
The ban will prevent people from seeking out typical holiday spots in Wales where the virus s still in low circulation. Travel within Wales is already restricted.
As of Wednesday, the number of Coronavirus cases increased by 19,724, making the total number of cases in the UK 654,644. The number of UK coronavirus deaths increased by 137, making the death toll 43,155 in the country.
Public Health Wales reported ten more deaths and 946 positive coronavirus tests.