Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. Wales
14 October 2020updated 20 Oct 2020 1:56pm

The success of Wales’ new Covid-19 regulations will test England’s appetite for lockdown

The prohibition on travel into Wales from tier two and three areas in England will depend upon the public enforcing it themselves. 

By Stephen Bush

People who live in tier-two and tier-three areas in England – that is, areas that are classified as “high risk” and “very high risk” will be banned from travelling into Wales from Friday (16 October), the Welsh First Minister, Mark Drakeford, has announced.

It represents an eye-catching but comparatively small change in the existing regulations to aid enforcement. As it stands, people in tier-three areas of England are merely strongly advised not to travel outside of them. The government at Westminster contemplated, but ultimately did not go through with, measures to legally prohibit these movements, partly because of resistance to the idea within the Conservative Party, but more importantly because it is far from clear how this law would be enforced.

Many countries have introduced similar internal barriers but struggled to enforce them. In practice, these restrictions will only work if they are self-policed: that is to say, if people in tier-two and tier-three areas voluntarily opt to stay out of Wales, because there are only so many members of the British Transport Police. That speaks to the big question being neglected at Westminster: why is support for fresh lockdowns so high in both polls and focus groups, yet practical observance so low?

If the answer is that people simply can’t afford to observe a period of lockdown, then Wales’ new prohibitions, which will largely but not exclusively prevent leisure travel and well-paid commuters in Cheshire and Merseyside from entering Wales, may enjoy a greater level of adherence than existing measures. If the answer is something deeper, then Wales’ new regulations may have little effect.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

THANK YOU

Content from our partners
How to create a responsible form of “buy now, pay later”
“Unions are helping improve conditions for drivers like me”
Transport is the core of levelling up