Fears for public safety after England relaxes travel restrictions

Plaid Cymru has called for an immediate increase in fines to deter people driving to Welsh tourist hotspots after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a relaxation of restrictions to allow people to travel to exercise.

In England people are now allowed to travel to exercise, while in Wales it is against the law to undertake anything but essential journeys.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said in today’s Welsh Government press conference that people travelling from England would not be "fined immediately" for coming to Wales.

However, the Leaders of Plaid Cymru run local authorities, Plaid Cymru Police and Crime Commissioners and Plaid Cymru MS and Shadow Minister for Local Government Delyth Jewell have all joined the call to increase the fines to deter people from driving to Welsh tourist hotspots whilst the lockdown continues.

Plaid Cymru Police and Crime Commissioners for North Wales and Dyfed-Powys Arfon Jones and Dafydd Llywelyn said the current fines were not high enough with people “still flaunting” the restrictions and traveling “hundreds of miles” on non-essential journeys.

The Leaders of Plaid Cymru run councils – Emlyn Dole (Carmarthenshire), Ellen ap Gwynn (Ceredigion), Dyfrig Siencyn (Gwynedd) and Llinos Medi Huws (Ynys Môn) all endorsed the call to increase the fine.

Plaid Cymru MS, Delyth Jewell raised concerns about the confusion caused by conflicting statements from the First Minister and Prime Minister, and has called for greater powers to be given to police and local authorities to deter those who would take advantage of the confusion.

Plaid Cymru Police and Crime Commissioners Arfon Jones (North Wales) and Dafydd Llywelyn (Dyfed-Powys) said,

“The current fine is not high enough as people are still flaunting the guidelines and travelling hundreds of miles on non-essential journeys.

“As Police and Crime Commissioners, we were one of the first to call for travel restriction measures to be put in place to safeguard our communities. We’re now calling again on Welsh Government to increase the fine as a greater deterrent to those looking to make unnecessary journeys within Wales. We’re calling for fines to start from £1,000 rising to £3,200 for repeat offenders.”

Delyth Jewell, Member of the Senedd for the South Wales East region said,

“The lack of clarity from the Prime Minister that his changes apply only to England has only served to confuse the matter further.

“The message from Wales is clear: Stay at home. The safety of the people of Wales must come first and anyone thinking of driving to Wales to visit a tourist hotspot needs to understand they would be endangering themselves and everyone around them.

“To this end and to protect people from the virus, we must support our police forces by giving them greater powers to make people think again about breaking lockdown restrictions.”