WALES will ban visitors from the UK’s Covid hotspots from today and is planning a three-week “fire-break” to halt the growth of cases.
The Government said the travel ban will come into force later today, stopping millions of Brits from going across the border, before revealing more stark plans.
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People from Covid hotspots in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland will face £50 fines if they are caught crossing the border.
Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford also announced today the Government is considering a circuit-breaker style lockdown for two or three weeks.
He said: “A ‘fire-break’ would also mean a short, sharp shock to all our lives – it would mean shutting down businesses and the economy.
“We would all have to stay at home to once again to save lives. But this time it would be for weeks not months.”
After revealing plans to ban tourists crossing into Wales earlier in the week, ministers were accused of pursuing an anti-English agenda.
And the Police Federation of England and Wales said it would be “unenforceable”, adding “policing in Wales is already over-stretched due to the pandemic” and the new measures would add “yet another level of complexity to policing”.
But Mr Drakeford defended the plans and said he will instruct police to issue fixed-penalty notices and urged residents to snitch on visitors.
He told Times Radio: “It is absolutely possible to enforce it.
“The Welsh population is very nervous and wary. Your difficulties aren’t over if you evade the police.”
The move brings the rest of the UK in line with rules already in place in Wales where residents are banned from moving in and out of 17 areas without a reasonable excuse, such as work or education.
But people living in Covid hotspots elsewhere in the UK are currently free to enter the parts of Wales that are not under local lockdown.
It comes as it was revealed Scotland could also ban English people from Covid hotspots and follow Wales’ lead.
Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday at a virtual meeting of the Scottish Parliament: “Although we have put in place tough measures, we cannot rule out having to go further in the future.
“As we consider these issues, plan future steps and where necessary, take emergency action, we will seek to ensure that parliament is fully informed and involved in these decisions.”
Elsewhere, Northern Ireland itself has been plunged into a month-long lockdown starting today, with pubs and restaurants shut, while schools will close for a fortnight.
And millions living in Lancashire will move into Tier 3 restrictions tonight at midnight, with Greater Manchester expected to follow soon.
It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s call for a two-week “circuit breaker” lockdown during half-term school holidays later this month would cause misery and be a disaster.
Mr Johnson insisted his regional strategy of splitting England into three tiers of restrictions must be given time to work and would drive down Covid cases if properly followed.
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But, crucially, he told MPs: “I rule out nothing in combating the virus.”
The PM’s rejection of a circuit breaker triggered Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford to unveil an extraordinary plan to fine people from UK Covid hotspots from entering the country.
The ban is expected to apply to 16.1million people living in Tier Two and Tier Three areas in England, plus 3.4million living in the central belt of Scotland and all residents in Northern Ireland.