Wales' first minister threatens border closure if Boris Johnson does not impose Covid-19 travel ban

First minister of Wales Mark Drakeford. Photograph: BBC.

First minister of Wales Mark Drakeford. Photograph: BBC.

Wales' first minister has threatened to close the Welsh border if Boris Johnson does not impose a travel ban on virus hotspots in England.

Mark Drakeford told the prime minister he had "one final opportunity" to stop people crossing the border from England.

Drakeford has pledged to write to the prime minister urging him to impose restriction on travel into Wales following a sharp rise in coronavirus cases.

This is not the first time the first minister has appealed for Boris Johnson to tighten travel restrictions.

Speaking on BBC Wales Today on Monday, Drakeford said closing the Welsh border was "not the preferred option" but that Johnson's new restrictions "simply will not do".

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"North Wales Police cannot stop someone and turn them around simply because they're not following guidance," he said.

"We need rules that prevent people from high incidence areas coming into Wales, to areas with low incidences of the virus."

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Drakeford said he wrote to the prime minister on Tuesday to showcasing the harm people crossing into Wales was having on the nation and warned him he had "one final opportunity to do the right thing".

"We've got that evidence, we'll share it with the prime minister. I will set out the powers that we have, and if he doesn't act, we'll use them.

"I want to give him one final opportunity to do the right thing. Because that would be fair to people in Wales and people across the border.

"The prime minister needs to act. He has the power, he has the authority, what he lacks is the willingness. He needs to find that."

On Monday, Drakeford attended a Cobra meeting chaired by the prime minister to discuss the introduction of a tiered system of local restrictions across England.

Following the meeting, a spokesperson for the first minister said he has expressed "deep disappointment" with the prime minister's refusal to back his calls to ban people from virus hotspots in England making non-essential journeys into Wales.

The spokeswoman said: “The first minister expressed deep disappointment at the inadequate proposals for travel restrictions in high-infection areas in England, and said these would be met with great dismay in many parts of Wales where infection rates are lower.”

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