North Wales lockdown: Cancellations and closures but Welsh Government says travel ban stays

Bookings are being cancelled and a holiday park has already announced its closing as four North Wales counties go into lockdown.

The rules are being tightened in Denbighshire, Flintshire, Conwy and Wrexham following a rise in Covid cases.

The new measures came into force at 6pm on Thursday.

In Wales the rules include a ban on entering or leaving each of these counties without a reasonable excuse, such as travel for work or education.

This has triggered a backlash – particularly in the tourism and hospitality sectors.

The regulations mean holidaymakers are barred from reaching resorts like Rhyl, Llandudno, Betws-y-Coed and Conwy.  Tourists can though travel through these counties to reach Gwynedd and Anglesey which are not under a local lockdown.

Restaurants and hotels have already reported cancellations while Haven’s Presthaven site in Gronant, Prestatyn, will shut tomorrow morning.

Presthaven Beach Resort near Prestatyn
(Image: David Powell/North Wales Live)

Conservative MPs and MSs in North Wales have asked for a review of the county travel restrictions while Plaid Cymru wants “hyper-local” restrictions for hotspots rather than a blanket county approach.

But Welsh Government said while they appreciated the restrictions caused difficulties for businesses they were taking steps to “prevent the spread of a deadly virus around Wales”.

Nathan Cousins, group sales and marketing at the Anderbury Hotel Collection, which operates St George’s Hotel, Llandudno, said: “We are receiving lots of cancellations from guests who have booked rooms with us over the next few weeks.

St George’s Hotel, Llandudno. Photo by Ian Cooper
(Image: Ian Cooper/North Wales Live)

“We are contacting everyone who has booked a room with us over the next couple of weeks and transferring their reservation to other dates, we are remaining open to key workers and people who need to stay for valid reasons.

“We are also staying open for residents of Conwy who may like to stay or have a meal or drink in our lounge or bar areas.”

They are being pro-active with a special offer for local people to stay.

The Welsh Mountain Zoo in Colwyn Bay, which closed for three months in the national lockdown, is fearful about the winter.

North Wales is open to tourism with social distancing. Welsh Mountain Zoo in Colwyn Bay
(Image: Mike Dean 2020 Eye Imagery)

They added: “Since reopening in July, and with the enforcement of strict social distancing measures, the Zoo is currently operating at a 50% capacity until further notice.

“Recent news of a pending at least two-week lockdown for Conwy will add yet further restrictions and reduced revenue limiting visitors to local residents of the region.”

“It’s a massive blow, and will be the lid on the coffin for many,” said Huw Jones, who opened his Three Stream Glamping (Glampio Tair Afon) venture in Llanfairfechan in August and had been hoping for a late-season surge to recoup his investment.

“Effectively I will lose the whole of my October trade – and then we’re into winter,” he added.

Jim Jones, chief executive of North Wales Tourism, said: “I just feel so sad for our hospitality sector.

Jim Jones, chief executive of North Wales Tourism, above Llandudno

“I know these business and how hard they work and how much time and money they have invested in making their premises as secure and safe as possible.”

A statement from Conservative MPs and MSs said: “We accept that Covid-19 infection rates have generally risen across North Wales during September – although they remain significantly lower than those within local lockdown areas elsewhere. 

“It is understood that raised case numbers largely relate to household transmission, as well as an element within the hospitality and healthcare sectors. 

New local lockdown rules come into force in four counties in North Wales tonight – and they’ll affect tourism.
(Image: Daily Post Wales)

“There is very limited evidence that either travel or tourism is driving raised infection rates. For this reason, travel restrictions have not generally been introduced for local lockdowns in England.”

They added: “We would strongly urge reconsideration of the scope of the restrictions, to take into account the devastating impact of travel restrictions on the wellbeing and livelihoods of local people, and a commitment to review the measures regularly.”

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Plaid Cymru Shadow Health Minister and MS for Ynys Mon Rhun ap Iorwerth said: “I appeal to Welsh Government to give careful consideration to using more hyper-local measures where possible, focusing on specific clusters.

“This would be far more effective with a properly functioning and robust testing system – with fast testing and fast results for fast tracing to isolate cases – which we do not currently have and is something the Health Minister must resolve with absolute urgency.”

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “We are requiring people living in lockdown restrictions to only travel for essential purposes, whilst those living outside lockdown areas should only enter them with a reasonable excuse.

“We appreciate this can cause difficulties for some businesses, but we are trying to prevent the spread of a deadly virus around Wales.

“Earlier this week, we announced £60m for businesses impacted by local restrictions, as part of an additional £140m to support companies across Wales in the third phase of our Economic Resilience Fund.”

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