THERE are fears that a significant divergence in Covid laws between Wales and England could lead to “some friction” as visitors continue to cross the border over the summer.
In England from Monday, July 19 – dubbed as ‘Freedom Day’ – the legal requirement to wear a face covering in shops and public transport will end, to be replaced with less stringent recommendations that masks be worn in crowded and enclosed spaces.
This includes the reopening of all remaining closed businesses and venues, including nightclubs, with all capacity limits also set to be removed.
But in Wales, where public health is a devolved issue, this will not be the case with face coverings remaining a legal requirement in all indoor public places for at least another three weeks unless health exemption applies.
This covers supermarkets and hospitality, with the only exception being when seated inside a pub or restaurant, as well as public transport and taxis with anyone travelling into Wales by rail expected to put a mask on after crossing the border.
The Welsh Government has suggested August 7, provided that the public health situation allows it, as a date to relax the regulations to more closely match those of England’s, with such a move to Alert Level 0 dropping the legal requirement to wear masks in such settings.
But concerns have been raised that the lack of clarity over the divergence in Covid-19 rules could lead to issues, with the majority of visitors to popular tourist venues tending to cross the border from England and not privy .
In the Commons on Wednesday, Arfon MP Hywel Williams urged the Prime Minister to “make it clear that those visiting Wales this summer must stick to Welsh laws” and to clarity that on Covid regulations that he could only speak for England.
In response, Boris Johnson said, “I think that people should stick to the rules and the guidance wherever they are, and the hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to talk about a cautious and measured approach.”
Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Anglesey Council’s portfolio holder for economic development and tourism praised the Welsh Government’s handling thus far.
“Mark Drakeford’s approach to dealing with the pandemic has been more cautious and totally focused on protecting the people of Wales and the First Minister has served us well,” said Cllr Carwyn Jones, a member of the Plaid Cymru-led administration.
“Boris Johnson has been more gung-ho in his approach and is dropping the covid public health measures as of Monday in England.
“This difference in approach and response between England and Wales will potentially create some friction in certain situations with the summer holidays now upon us and different rules in place.
“I was aware during the first lockdown that some people