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Welsh Covid travel rule changes unfair on pubs, say critics | UK news

The Welsh government is under fire over changes to its Covid travel rules that critics say will lead to people from Wales crossing the border for nights out in England.

From Friday, a rule that bans people from leaving Wales except for reasons such as work or education will be replaced with one that allows Welsh residents to go to tier 1 and 2 areas in England. At the same time a law comes into force that stops pubs and other licensed premises in Wales selling alcohol and forces them to close at 6pm.

Welsh pub owners said people from Wales were bound to travel into England for a drink and meal. Mark Jones, who runs the Stanton House Inn in Chirk, north Wales, said: “I’m just half a mile from the border. We’re going to close and I know some people from here will go to pubs in England. It isn’t fair.”

Ashley Rogers, the commercial director of a business council that covers north Wales, said: “It will put pubs in Wales at a competitive disadvantage. On the back of an awful year it could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”


Conservatives in the Welsh parliament called for the government to think again. Darren Millar, the shadow Covid recovery minister, said: “While any lifting of travel restrictions between Wales and England is to be welcomed, there can be no doubt that this news will rub salt in the wounds of the Welsh hospitality industry.

“With Welsh pubs, cafes and restaurants being banned from selling alcohol on their premises, many of their customers will be taking their custom and cash across the border to enjoy a tipple with a meal in England instead.

“The Welsh Labour-led government must rethink its new rules, engage with leaders the hospitality industry and adopt a more targeted approach to intervention that keeps the Welsh pound in Wales, and attracts the English pound into Welsh businesses too, especially in the run-up to Christmas.”

Asked if the rule change meant Welsh residents would be able to go to pubs in tiers 1 and 2 in England, a Welsh government spokesperson said there would be no legal restrictions, but added: “We strongly advise people in Wales not to travel into those parts of England and Scotland where the infection rate is lower, to help prevent them taking coronavirus with them.”


The changes mean people from tiers 1 and 2 in England can go on holiday to Wales. The spokesman said: “People in England living in tier 1 and 2 areas can enter Wales. However we are asking people to think carefully about their actions and the risk of spreading the virus. We continue to ask people to do what they should do, rather than what they can do under the law, in order to play their part in preventing the spread of coronavirus.”

Under the new rules for Wales travel to and from tier 3 areas in England, level 3 and 4 areas in Scotland and the whole of Northern Ireland will be prohibited.

The Welsh first minister, Mark Drakeford, said: “Coronavirus doesn’t respect borders – we all have a part to play in keeping Wales and the UK safe. Please think carefully about where you are going and what you are doing. This virus thrives wherever we come together with others.”

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