Wales' first minister brands Boris Johnson's proposals 'inadequate'

Mark Drakeford appears in front of a European flag. Photograph: CPMR/Flickr.

Mark Drakeford appears in front of a European flag. Photograph: CPMR/Flickr. - Credit: Archant

Wales' first minister Mark Drakeford has described Boris Johnson's proposals for travel restrictions for coronavirus hotspots in England as “inadequate”.

It came as Wales’s health minister said there is now evidence that travel to and from areas of England with high rates of Covid-19 has contributed to the spread of the virus to other areas of the UK.

Drakeford attended a Cobra meeting, chaired by Johnson, to discuss the proposed introduction of a tiered system of local restrictions in England.

Afterwards, a spokeswoman for the first minister said Drakeford had expressed “deep disappointment” with Johnson’s refusal to back his calls to ban people from English virus hotspots from 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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At the Welsh government’s Covid-19 press briefing in Cardiff, health minister Vaughan Gething said Johnson had “chosen not to act” on the issue of travel restrictions.

“Myself and the first minister are meeting again later today but we’re both really disappointed that the Prime Minister is still taking an approach where there is only going to be guidance on whether people should or shouldn’t travel out of highly infected areas,” Gething said.

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“This isn’t just an issue for Wales, it’s an issue for the whole UK – lower prevalence areas in England will be equally as affected as lower prevalence areas in Wales.”

Gething said there is now evidence of “importation of coronavirus cases from contact with some of those high prevalence areas in England”.

“We do know that travel in and outside of those areas has been a factor in the spread of coronavirus to other parts of the UK, including some examples here in Wales,” he added.

Gething said the Welsh Government does have “public health powers” to impose its own restrictions on travel into Wales, which he previously suggested could include placing people from UK Covid hotspots into quarantine.

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price said he is “livid” at Johnson’s response, and that the Welsh Government “needs to act today” on the issue of travel into Wales.

“I’m livid about the attitude of the prime minister,” Price told BBC Wales.

“Previously Mark Drakeford said there wasn’t any evidence of this kind of infection from people travelling from over the border.

“Now we heard it from Vaughan Gething for the first time that there is actual evidence that has been identified of transmission that’s happened as a result of people coming from high-infection areas in England into Wales.

“The Welsh government needs to act today.”

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