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Northern Ireland closes schools in effort to combat COVID-19

Northern Ireland closes schools in effort to combat COVID-19”

First minister Mark Drakeford has said Wales will ban entry to people from areas of the United Kingdom with high levels of COVID-19 infections by Friday if Boris Johnson fails to impose UK-wide travel restrictions.

They are being introduced to help prevent the virus spreading from high-prevalence areas to lower-prevalence communities, Mark Drakeford said.

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.

About 2.3 million people are now living under restrictions, meaning no one can enter or leave 15 counties, plus Llanelli and Bangor, without "a reasonable excuse".

"We need rules that prevent people from high incidence areas coming into Wales, to areas with low incidences of the virus".

The Welsh government has also pointed out that similar measures were in place in March with the "stay local" rules, which provided an enforceable restriction on people travelling to other areas of the country at the height of the pandemic.

"What Mark Drakeford is trying to do is to keep people in Wales safe", Sir Keir told BBC Wales.

17 areas of Wales are now under local lockdown restrictions.

"I am preparing new regulations to protect the health of people in Wales that will come into force on Friday".

"People will be able to come into Wales, if you're educated in Wales or and England and need to cross the border, if you need health services across the border if you work in an essential occupation where you can't work from home, you'll be allowed to travel".

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In its basic form, the act allows Welsh ministers to make laws "for the objective of preventing, protecting against, controlling or providing a public health response to the incidence or spread of infection or contamination in Wales".

Mr Drakeford said there will be extra police patrols on main routes into Wales who will use Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology and other "well established" techniques to identify where vehicles have come from.

Welsh Secretary Simon Hart wrote to Mark Drakeford yesterday said that he is "worried that without rapid explanation, this approach risks stirring division and confusion in Wales".

Mr Drakeford said at a press conference today: 'Here in the Welsh Government, we are looking very carefully at introducing a time-limited firebreak, also known as a circuit-breaker, of the type recommended by Sage, the UK's expert scientific advisory group, and by our own advisers here in Wales.

Ahead of such a move, however, Wales is taking steps to limit the spread by introducing the travel ban from areas with high caseloads, which was first proposed on Wednesday.

"These are incredibly hard decisions and we have not yet come to a final conclusion about whether a firebreak is the best way to act", Mr Drakeford added.

Those who ignore the restrictions will be breaking the law and could face fixed penalty notices starting at £50 - but there have so far been no reports of drivers being stopped.

"The approach to putting a border between England and Wales is unconstitutional and will place the police in an invidious position considering that they serve the whole of the UK".

It will also affect those living in areas of Scotland and Northern Ireland with a high prevalence of Covid-19.



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