First Minister keen to maintain open border between North Wales and north west of England despite fears over visitor influx
The First Minister wants to maintain an open border despite fears that stricter lockdown measures in the north west of England could see a further influx of holiday home owners to north Wales.
Following a spike in Covid-19 cases, visiting people at home has been banned in parts of northern England as well as rules on face coverings being extended to more indoor settings, including museums and places of worship.
But with the rules impacting Greater Manchester, east Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire, a north Wales MP has raised concerns that stricter measures and the spike in cases could see more residents of these areas head for holiday homes in north Wales, placing greater pressure on already stretched health and public services.
Liz Saville Roberts, having questioned the Prime Minister on Friday morning, says that the lack of leisure travel restrictions could have direct consequences.
The Plaid Cymru Westminster leader and MP for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, said: “North west Wales is a primary holiday destination for people from these areas, and I am very aware that the population of Abersoch for example will be going up from 1,000 to 20,000 as we speak.
“I also raised concerns about people travelling to second homes in Cornwall, Cumbria and Wales during our meeting back on 20th March, and we know that this became an issue at the time.
“We can be certain that people will decide to travel to their holiday homes from these affected areas as a direct result of these new lockdown measures and this when our local health board is failing to cope as it is.
“I called on the PM to make an announcement against all non-essential travel from these affected communities.”
When questioned during Friday’s press briefing, the First Minister described the scenes in the north of England as ‘concerning’, having discussed with Boris Johnson the measures in place there, describing them as “larger in line” with the stricter guidelines already in place across Wales.
“My advise to those travelling across the border is that if you come to Wales, please help us to keep Wales safe,” he said.
“We welcome people from other parts of the UK to Wales and ask them to take all actions to keep themselves, their families and others safe.
“Maintain social distancing, wash your hands and if you’re using shared facilities do so carefully and consciously, that way we can keep Wales safe and open for everyone to noting.”
But noting that while he understood the anxiety behind such calls, the First Minister described the Welsh English border as “very permeable,” with large numbers moving back and forth to work every day.
“My focus is not on closing borders, its about making that safe and we have put lots of things in place to make sure that when people visit Wales the information they get, the settings they visit and experiences they will have will have been made safe for them and others” said Mr Drakeford in response to a question from the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
“We look to businesses to make sure that they put in place all of the things that we have agreed and say to individuals that come to Wales to help us to keep Wales safe.
“We give them very clear information on how they can do that and I think the evidence to date is that people are very respectful of that and providing they are we look forward to continue welcoming people to Wales.”
By Gareth Williams – Local Democracy Reporter
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