Confusion over Anglo-Welsh border lockdown rules

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Welcome to Wales sign leading into Chirk / Credit @emilyash

The coronavirus pandemic has brought a new way of life for many people with constant restrictions and confusion. 

In the UK public health is devolved, meaning that separate governments deal with it individually.  This has led to different laws and restrictions being put in place depending on the country. 

Some essential workers need to cross the border in order to go to work, which is permitted according to both Welsh and English guidelines. But for those towns that share a border, there are grey areas for residents. 

For some it would be technically illegal to cross a road or go to the (essential) shops regardless of having either an English or Welsh address.   

Carol Pardoe is an essential worker in Wales who moved across the border in August, meaning she now must cross back over to get to work.

She said: “In Holt, when the hospitality sector in Wales was closed, the village was plunged into darkness whereas across the bridge pubs and restaurants were open and provided a real sense of community and vice versa when England closed the hospitality sector.”  

Wales has been much stricter than England with a “Wales is closed” policy enforced to tourists from other areas of the UK. No one in and no one out. It was designed to keep locals safe, particularly in rural areas where the hospitals are designed to accommodate smaller populations and would not cope if they were to be filled with tourists and holiday homeowners.  

While travelling to work from across the border was allowed, the difference in rules has complicated everyday life.

Mrs Pardoe said: “We noted from social media that people were unsure as to whether they could even cross the border for essential shopping.  

 We had times when we were able to shop in Chester and visit restaurants when our friends and family couldn’t. That was a little strange and isolating. 

England and Wales have imposed different lockdown rules / credit Terry Hughes (cc 2.0)

Rhys Cousins is another essential worker who lives in Farndon, Cheshire, just minutes away from the border and his workplace and has also found issues. 

He says: When the different lockdowns came in, I couldn’t go to my local pub to see friends as my local is 500 metres away in Wales and vice versa. 

“When the Welsh pubs shut and pubs in England where open, friends could not come see me in a pub in England. 

The 37-year-old adds: Working in Wales and living in England has had its issues like passing a supermarket on the way home from work in Wales and knowing you can’t stop even though there’s 200 metres between the place.” 

At present the laws are similar across the whole of the UK, although that could change as and when lockdown eases with Wales currently Wales behind England on vaccine distribution.  

For more information check official guidelines for England  and Wales.

About Emily Ash, JMU Journalism