Dudley residents to be only people in Black Country allowed to visit Wales

Most Black Country residents will be banned from entering Wales from Friday evening as the country seeks to limit the spread of coronavirus.

The M4 motorway near Cardiff in Wales
The M4 motorway near Cardiff in Wales

Dudley will be the only Black Country borough where residents are allowed to travel to Wales, with the ban preventing anyone from areas of the UK with high levels of coronavirus crossing the border.

However this could change should Dudley's risk level change from tier one to tier two, which health chiefs have warned could soon happen if the infection rate continues to rise.

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford announced the restrictions in a written statement on Friday, in which he said the restrictions were needed to help stop the virus moving from urban, highly populated areas to more rural areas.

The restrictions are expected to come into force from 6pm on Friday, and immediately prevent travel from areas in England in tiers two and three, the central belt of Scotland, and the whole of Northern Ireland.

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford (Brian Lawless/PA)

Sandwell, Walsall, Wolverhampton, Birmingham and Solihull are all in the "high risk" tier two category and thus will be included in the ban.

Dudley, Staffordshire and South Staffordshire are all currently designated as tier one "medium risk" and thus residents of those areas will still be allowed to travel to Wales.

The ban is likely to affect families' plans for the October half term in two weeks time.

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As with all of the rules that vary between local authorities, it means that people who live on the border of a "high risk" borough will face different restrictions to their neighbours.

For example residents of Oxford Way in Tipton fall under Sandwell Council and are thus dubbed "high risk" and banned from visiting other people's houses. Their gardens back onto homes that fall under Dudley Council, where residents are allowed to mix with other households and travel where they please.

A Google Map showing Tipton. Homes on the left hand side of the red line are in Dudley and are thus 'medium risk', while their neighbours on the right in Sandwell are 'high risk'

Mr Drakeford said: “The number of cases across Wales is growing and our health service is coming under pressure.

“To keep Wales safe, the Welsh Government is therefore amending the Regulations to make it clear that people living in areas with a high-prevalence of coronavirus in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland would not be able to travel to parts of Wales where there is a low prevalence.

“It is vital that we 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.

“It is already prohibited for people to travel into a local health protection area here whether they come from other parts of Wales, the UK or from other countries.

“As with the rules for Local Health Protection Areas there are some exceptions such as work or providing charitable or voluntary services when those cannot be carried out where they live.

“We also recognise that this is a particularly difficult time for children and young people and we will also amend the regulations to allow children to leave their local health protection areas to play sport or participate in other activities such as drama or dance classes which are so important to their mental and physical health and wellbeing.

“If we all continue to work together, we can protect ourselves and families and keep Wales safe.”

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