Covid: North Wales lockdown travel rules ‘disproportionate’

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Restrictions will be imposed across four different council areas in north Wales

Travel restrictions planned for north Wales are disproportionate, the region’s Tory MPs and Senedd members say.

They have urged Welsh ministers to reconsider lockdowns in four council areas, due to come into force at 18:00 on Thursday.

One MP, James Davies of Vale of Clwyd, said the changes were nonsensical and called for more targeted action.

The Welsh Government said the local restrictions will be kept under review.

Under the restrictions people will not be able to leave or enter Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire and Wrexham without a “reasonable excuse”.

That can include work, if you cannot work from home, and for education, but not tourism.

The restrictions are the same as those imposed in most of south Wales.

Earlier Flintshire’s council leader said people ignoring coronavirus rules by socialising in people’s homes was the reason behind the rise in cases seen there.

A letter from First Minister Mark Drakeford to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the travel restrictions had the “primary objective of limiting the spread of the virus”.

He urged similar travel restrictions be introduced in England, as a “significant step in lessening the risk that we collectively face”.

A joint statement from all north Wales Conservative MPs and Members of the Senedd (MSs) accused the Welsh Government of imposing “disproportionate” travel restrictions, with “limited evidence” that either travel or tourism is driving raised infection rates.

“For this reason, travel restrictions have not generally been introduced for local lockdowns in England,” they said.

“We would strongly urge reconsideration of the scope of the restrictions, to take into account the devastating impact of travel restrictions on the wellbeing and livelihoods of local people, and a commitment to review the measures regularly.”

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James Davies said he received “an awful lot of negativity” about the restrictions

Vale of Clwyd Conservative MP James Davies said since Tuesday’s announcement he had “an awful amount of negativity through – people who are not convinced, and I think it’s so important that Welsh Government and UK Government can provide the data and show that measures are proportionate”.

He called for data to be published by the Welsh Government that is “based on localities rather than potentially locking down whole counties in a way that’s quite nonsensical”.

Case levels in Denbighshire had “actually dropped slightly in the last week”, he said: “To bring in restrictions that limit travel in particular with all of the implications that has for business is quite a blow.”

Clwyd West Conservative MP David Jones said he had heard from those operating tourism businesses “who were looking forward to the half term and welcoming guests who now won’t be able to do it”.

He said the restrictions had been imposed “without any debate at all” in the Senedd.

“Now is the time for politicians both in Cardiff and in Westminster to be debating these restrictions before they are imposed,” he said.

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Media captionLiz Saville Roberts: “Leisure travel from lookdown areas has got to stop.”

‘Seeming illogicalities’

On the same day, Dwyfor Meirionnydd Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville Roberts urged the Boris Johnson to put a stop to “leisure travel from local lockdown areas”.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, she said those in local lockdown areas in England could travel to Wales, but those in Wales under similar restrictions could not travel outside their area without good reason.

The prime minister said there would be some “seeming illogicalities” to different measures but “that’s inevitable in tackling a pandemic”.

He added: “Overall the UK is proceeding with the same approach and I’m very grateful to Mark Drakeford and everyone else in the Welsh Government for the way we are working together to defeat the virus.”

Responding to the Conservative statement, a Welsh Government spokeswoman said: “Swift preventative action has been taken due to the rapid rate of rise in new cases across north Wales.

“The local restrictions will be kept under regular review.

“We all have a part to play in reducing the spread of the virus and it’s important we all continue to follow the guidelines.”