Welsh Government threatens crackdown if people ignore Covid-19 advice

People have been warned they face a tough crackdown by the Welsh Government if they refuse to self-isolate and continue with non-essential travel during the coronavirus crisis.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said it is important members of the public do not ignore the advice from medical experts to prevent further deaths.

Across the country, 12 people have died after catching Covid-19 and a further 347 have tested positive for the virus.

Tourists are being asked to stay away from attractions such as St Davids Cathedral in Pembrokeshire (David Davies/PA).
Tourists are being asked to stay away from attractions such as St David’s Cathedral in Pembrokeshire (David Davies/PA)

Mr Drakeford’s stark warning comes as local authority leaders and tourism bosses urged people to stay away from popular west Wales holiday destinations.

“Self-isolation for those who have symptoms and social distancing by everyone is absolutely essential at this stage if we are to delay the spread of this virus and save lives,” the First Minister said.

“We all need to follow this advice now to protect each other and our families and to help ensure our NHS is not overwhelmed.

“Social distancing includes avoiding all but essential travel and if people don’t follow this advice we will have no choice but to use powers to enforce it.”

The pledge came as Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price said self-isolaters should be banned from travelling to rural parts of Wales during the crisis.

He has written to the First Minister demanding he stops people travelling to caravan parks, second homes and tourist accommodation across the country.

Mr Price said there are concerns about an influx of people into rural communities – putting even more pressure on local health and social care services.

He spoke out as would-be tourists were urged to avoid beaches and other holiday destinations in the UK to limit the spread of Covid-19.

“I am asking that urgent steps are taken to avoid unnecessary additional pressure on our health and social care system at this difficult time,” Mr Price said.

“This should clearly be done in consultation with other governments, acting in co-ordination where possible, but independently if necessary.

“Wales already faces particular challenges in responding to Covid-19 – an older population, a higher proportion with underlying health conditions and a lower than average number of intensive care beds – which justifies swift and unilateral action.”

Meanwhile, the leaders of Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire councils have urged tourists to stop visiting.

“One major concern that we are starting to witness is an influx of tourists into west Wales and the consequences this may have in the coming weeks and especially the serious risk that there will be an overwhelming, unnecessary pressure on our services and supply chains,” they said.

“It is with great regret that we are taking an unprecedented step and asking people not to come on holiday to Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire or Carmarthenshire at this time.”

Tourism bosses are also urging people to stay away and urged the UK and Welsh Governments to provide clarity on what “necessary travel” is.

Tegryn Jones, chief executive of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, said: “Visitor destinations across the country have faced significant increases in visitor numbers over the weekend.

“We appreciate that in these difficult times people are likely to need access to open spaces and fresh air but it is impossible to practise safe social distancing with increasing visitor numbers.”

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