Peaks such as Y Garn in Gwynedd will be out of bounds to visitors from high-risk areas. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Peaks such as Y Garn in Gwynedd will be out of bounds to visitors from high-risk areas. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Much of Wales’s countryside is now out of bounds to large numbers of visitors from the rest of the UK.

The Welsh Government has introduced rules meaning people from high-risk coronavirus hotspots will be banned from entering the areas where there is a low incidence of Covid-19.

The Cardiff administration said the action was being taken after Prime Minister Boris Johnson failed to respond to First Minister Mark Drakeford’s requests to issue advisory travel guidance in England.

Local restrictions on residents in part of south and north Wales remain in place, affecting some of the Snowdonia and Brecon Beacons national parks, where the public must remain within their local authority areas. Visitors from outside those areas are prevented from entering them except for travel through them to reach another destination.

The Welsh Government said under regulations which came into force at 6pm on Friday, people living in areas with a high prevalence of coronavirus in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland will not be able to travel to Wales for the time being.

It said they are being introduced to help prevent the virus spreading from high-prevalence areas to lower-prevalence communities.

Mr Drakeford said: “The number of coronavirus cases across Wales is growing and our health service is coming under pressure as more people fall ill.

“Much of Wales is now subject to local restrictions, which mean people living in these local health protection areas are not able to travel beyond their county boundaries without a reasonable excuse. These rules are designed to prevent the spread of infection within Wales and to other areas of the UK.

“To keep Wales safe, we are introducing these new, wider travel regulations to make it clear that people living in areas with a high prevalence of coronavirus in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland cannot travel to parts of Wales where there is low prevalence.

“It is vital we do all we can to 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.”

Exceptions to the ban include travel for work, obtaining food or medical supplies, attending a wedding or a funeral or providing or receiving emergency aid. Elite athletes may still travel to train, and children can travel to take part in sport or recreational activities.

The ban applies to residents of areas in England in tier two or three restrictions, all of Northern Ireland and the Central Belt of Scotland which is subject to additional coronavirus rules.

North Wales Police issued a statement on behalf of the four forces in Wales.

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Nigel Harrison said: “As we move into a critical stage of the virus progression, policing across Wales will continue to support the Welsh Government to help limit the spread of the virus.

“We absolutely recognise the great strain on people and the sacrifices that we are all making to get through this difficult time. Throughout the pandemic we’ve worked closely with our partners to ensure that measures are in place to help communities and prevent the spread of COVID-19. This will continue as we respond to the current situation.

“You will see increased visibility across our force areas where we will be trying to help our communities do the right thing and protect themselves and others.

“Our focus continues to be to reassure, inform and engage with people – explaining the regulations and encouraging compliance. We all have a personal responsibility to comply to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities from this virus.

“However we are now at a time where we will robustly enforce the regulations where there are blatant breaches, we will not allow the selfish minority to risk the health of the vast majority who have sacrificed so much over the last few months.

“We intend to focus our activity on areas and behaviours that pose the greatest risk to our communities and we will be proactive in targeting those that are not sticking to the gathering rules, whether that be indoors or outdoors.

“People should not be travelling between the areas facing local restrictions without defined reasonable excuses. This will include those that travel from other parts of the UK with high transmission rates.

“If you live in Wales in a non-restricted area you must not leave Wales to travel to other areas of the UK with high transmission rates – again without a reasonable excuse.

“All the actions we take and the effort we put in will be focused towards limiting the spread of the virus, helping us all protect our loved ones, our communities and our vital health service.

“The demand on North Wales Police has returned to pre-Covid level. And as a result, it is essential that people comply with the restrictions to reduce the number of breaches which officers have to respond to. We need people to recognise that wilfully flouting the guidance places unnecessary strain on already stretched resources.

“The weeks and months ahead will be difficult but we all need to work together to get the best result we can for our families.

“We all have a shared responsibility to protect the NHS, please use your common sense and help us together to protect our communities and save lives.”

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