Wales 'could be plunged into a circuit-breaker lockdown in the next few days'

First Minister Mark Drakeford said the Welsh Government is considering a 'circuit breaker' lockdown

First Minister Mark Drakeford said the Welsh Government is considering a 'circuit breaker' lockdown

Wales today vowed to push ahead with an 'unenforceable' ban on travellers from English coronavirus hotspots.

First Minister Mark Drakeford announced that the rules will come into force from 6pm tonight after accusing Boris Johnson of ignoring his pleas to impose an equivalent restrictions.

It is set to apply to all residents from areas in Tier Two and Three lockdowns - now more than 30million people - as well as the central belt of Scotland, and the whole of Northern Ireland. 

However, the idea of border restrictions has already been derided as impractical and anti-English by critics. 

The move comes as Mr Drakeford said he was 'looking very carefully' at whether to bring in a 'circuit-breaker' lockdown in an effort to stop the spread of the virus.

If he goes ahead with the proposals to shut bars and restaurants temporarily, it would leave England as the only UK nation not to have such blanket measures in place. 

Mr Drakeford said: 'The number of cases across Wales is growing and our health service is coming under pressure.

'To keep Wales safe, the Welsh Government is therefore amending the Regulations to make it clear that people living in areas with a high-prevalence of coronavirus in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland would not be able to travel to parts of Wales where there is a low prevalence.

'It is vital that we keep communities which have low levels of infection as safe as possible and this sensible and necessary restriction will help prevent the virus moving from more urban, highly populated areas to more sparsely populated areas.' 

The Welsh Government will ban people from Covid hotspots in England entering the country

The Welsh Government will ban people from Covid hotspots in England entering the country

Deaths in Wales have begun rising since the summer months saw infections plateau

Deaths in Wales have begun rising since the summer months saw infections plateau

What laws can be used to stop the English travelling to Wales? 

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford yesterday announced an extraordinary bid to ban people from coronavirus hotspots in England entering the country.

In Wales, health protection legislation - a devolved power - falls under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984.

It was updated in 2010 to give public authorities 'more comprehensive powers and duties to prevent and control risks to human health from infection or contamination'. 

In its basic form, the act allows Welsh ministers to make laws 'for the purpose of preventing, protecting against, controlling or providing a public health response to the incidence or spread of infection or contamination in Wales'. 

The laws that can be put forward include 'restrictions or requirements on or in relation to persons, things or premises in the event of, or in response to, a threat to public health'.

While the act does not specifically mention limitations on movements, the travel ban will likely be made law using the powers it grants.

However, the unprecedented nature of Mr Drakeford's proposals - and the prospect of ANPR being used to catch rule-breakers - could result in a legal challenge. 

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It is not thought any strict lockdown decision will be made before the weekend.

The key problem facing the Welsh government is how they would be able to support people who would no longer be able to go to work.

Mr Drakeford said at a press conference today: 'Here in the Welsh Government, we are looking very carefully at introducing a time-limited firebreak, also known as a circuit-breaker, of the type recommended by Sage, the UK's expert scientific advisory group, and by our own advisers here in Wales.

'This would be a short, sharp shock to the virus which could turn back the clock, slowing down its spread and buying us more time and vital capacity in the health service.

'A firebreak would also, however, be a short, sharp shock to all our lives. We will all have to stay at home once again, to save those lives.

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'But this time, it will be for weeks and not months. We are considering a two or three-week firebreak. The shorter the period, the sharper the measures will have to be.'

Yesterday the Welsh First Minister said number plate recognition cameras will be used to fine English drivers entering the country from hotspot areas despite police saying the travel ban is 'unenforceable.' 

But the Police Federation of England and Wales said 'policing in Wales is already over-stretched due to the pandemic' and the new measures would add 'yet another level of complexity

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