'Overstretched' cops will NOT be able to enforce Wales' ban on English visitors from Covid hotspots

"OVERSTRETCHED" cops will not be able to enforce Wales' ban on English visitors coming in from Covid hotspots.

Wales announced yesterday people living in high risk areas in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland will be fined if they cross the border.

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The First Minister unveiled the plans yesterday, adding anyone caught breaking the rules faces being fined £50.

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 to policing'".

The PM’s rejection of a circuit breaker lockdown for England triggered Mark Drakeford to unveil an extraordinary plan to fine people from UK Covid hotspots from entering the country.

The ban is expected to apply to 16.1million people living in Tier Two and Tier Three areas in England, plus 3.4million living in the central belt of Scotland and all residents in Northern Ireland.

Anyone who is caught crossing the border into Wales faces initial fines of £50 but these could increase if they refuse to leave.

Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg called the plan to turn away English visitors at the Welsh border "unconstitutional".

Today Mr Drakeford said police forces would carry out extra patrols on main roads to enforce the travel ban, before the Police Federation said it would be "unenforceable".

He told BBC Breakfast officers would explain the rules to people but could also issue fixed penalty notices to those who "knowingly and flagrantly" breach them.

'WILL TAKE ACTION'

"They will take the action that they need to take but enforcement is the final resort, not the first resort," he said.

Mr Drakeford added that he has discussed the plans with police forces and Police and Crime Commissioners in Wales.

Officers will use a "range of techniques" to police the travel ban, he said.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said holiday providers in Wales should not accept half-term bookings from people in areas of the UK with high levels of coronavirus.

Asked about existing bookings, he told BBC Breakfast: "I'm afraid those bookings will no longer be able to be honoured.

"It's why we're taking this action now to give people a good period of time to understand that, if you did book a holiday in those parts of Wales, I'm afraid that holiday will now no longer be able to take place."

He said this morning the Welsh Government is "seriously" planning circuit-breaker lockdown measures.

The First Minister told Sky News plans are being drawn up but there won't be an official announcement until later this week.

Scotland is considering banning English people from Covid hotspots and potentially following Wales' lead.

Policing in Wales is already over-stretched due to the pandemic' and the new measures would add 'yet another level of complexity to policing'

The SNP's Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "What we can do, if necessary, is say that people should not travel from hotspots, whether they should be from in Scotland or people coming to Scotland from other parts of the United Kingdom.

"But that will be done on an evidence-based approach where we think it's appropriate to protect the people in all parts of the country from people travelling where it's not necessary."

Greater London has been moved up into Tier 2 lockdown restrictions this morning – meaning households cannot mix indoors.

Elsewhere, Northern Ireland itself will be plunged into a month-long lockdown starting Friday, with pubs and restaurants shut, while schools will close for a fortnight.

And another 3.5million people living in Greater Manchester and Lancashire are poised to be hit with the highest level of restrictions.

Public health officials formally recommended that Greater Manchester and Lancashire be moved from Tier 2 to 3 at a meeting of the Gold Command yesterday.

The PM will make the final decision whether to go ahead with it today.



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