Wales’ First Minister has suggested he could close the border to the English as he warned Boris Johnson had “one final opportunity” to ban people in lockdown areas from travelling to Wales.
Mark Drakeford said he had attached evidence in his letter to the Prime Minister that showed travelling from areas with high prevalence of Covid-19 into areas with low prevalence contributes to the spread of the virus.
Mr Drakeford said: “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.”
In the letter sent on Tuesday Mr Drakeford told Mr Johnson he was “disappointed” with his response about “the issue I raised about travel from high prevalence areas of England, and the rest of the UK, to Wales”.
He said that the evidence against travel from such areas was “clear” and added that he had also written to the first ministers of Scotland and Northern Ireland requesting that they “regulate travel in a similar way”.
“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,” he said.
We believe people from high-covid areas shouldn’t travel to low-covid areas anywhere in the UK.
This is not about stopping people from England coming to Wales.
It’s about stopping the virus travelling. pic.twitter.com/sjqDuRwkPZ
— Mark Drakeford (@fmwales) October 13, 2020
He said that as much of Wales was under local restriction measures and that those “living in those areas are prohibited from travelling outside their county boundary without a reasonable excuse”, allowing travellers from areas with high rates into Wales “undermined” Wales’ efforts.
“This measure is designed to prevent the spread of infection within Wales and to other areas of the UK,” he said.
“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.”
Mr Johnson has so far refused to back Mr Drakeford’s call to issue a travel ban for English residents living under lockdowns.
Mr Drakeford told BBC Wales: “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.”
Mr Drakeford has been backed by Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price, who said he was “livid” that Mr Johnson was refusing to issue the travel restrictions.
Encouraging Mr Drakeford to use Welsh powers to ban travel into the country, Mr 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.”