Police will have the full support of the Welsh Government if they take a “more enforcement-heavy approach” to people breaking Covid-19 rules such as travelling to beauty spots, the health minister has said.
Vaughan Gething made the comments after days of people being photographed at scenic locations such as the Brecon Beacons and Snowdon, despite Wales being under lockdown restrictions.
He told a press conference in Cardiff that exercise was supposed to start at a person’s home, either on foot or on a bike, rather than driving to a mountain.
Regulations state that people should exercise alone, or with members of their household or support bubble or a carer.
We've had to make difficult decisions and ask you to once again #StayHome to save lives.
This is not how we wanted to start the New Year, but coronavirus levels continue to be very high. Don't invite it into your home.
— Welsh Government (@WelshGovernment) January 2, 2021
Mr Gething said the “great majority” of people in Wales were following the Alert Level 4 rules and were “deeply frustrated” to see people breaking them.
“The rules and what’s the right thing to do aren’t a surprise now – we’ve been in this position for the best part of 10 months,” he said.
Mr Gething said Alert Level 4 restrictions meant stay at home, “not stay local, not take a half-an-hour drive to go to a beauty spot”.
“I know that people that are doing the right thing are very frustrated with people who plainly aren’t,” he said.
“And I too am deeply frustrated with people who are not doing the right thing and are finding a way to justify to themselves why they don’t need to do the right thing.
“The law is there in place for a reason, to keep all of us safe, and there are penalties for those people who break the rules.
“If the police take a more enforcement-heavy approach with people who are plainly doing the wrong thing and knowingly doing so, they will have the full support of Welsh Government ministers.
“All of us need to play our part and I cannot overstate my frustration with pictures of people who know they’re doing the wrong thing, but are nevertheless doing so.
“We’re in an unfinished global pandemic. Many of our people have already died, and many more will do. We all have a responsibility to do the right thing.”
Mr Gething said a journey “for pleasure” was outside of the Welsh Government rules, which state that people must have an essential reason for leaving their home.
“Exercise is supposed to be starting and ending at your own home, either on foot or on a bike,” he said.
“There are limited exceptions but if people have decided to drive somewhere to go for a walk up a mountain, well I think those people know they’re doing the wrong thing.
“My view is that we need to support the police in taking enforcement measures.”
Mr Gething said he believed the police’s policy of educating people about regulations before enforcing the law had been “important”.
“But 10 months deep into a pandemic that has taken the lives of more than 3,500 in our country, I have a great deal less tolerance of people who are knowingly doing the wrong thing,” he added.