Coronavirus: Lockdown confusion at the borders

By Jennifer Meierhans
BBC News

Image caption,
Lockdown rules are different for people living either side of the Old Wye Bridge which links Gloucestershire and Monmouthshire

Lockdown rules are now different in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. But where does that leave those who live on a border, or live in one country and work in another?

In England's northernmost town, Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumberland, some residents told us they felt torn.

Boris Johnson encouraged people in England who could not work from home to go back to work.

Yet over the border in Scotland, the message has remained "stay at home".

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Stephen Scott said the difference in rules between England and Scotland could cause frustration

Stephen Scott, chairman of Berwick Chamber of Commerce, said this was "going to cause frustration and confusion".

"People may live in Berwick and work over the border, they may have friends and family who live over the border and of course the converse is true too," he said.

"How do those people interpret the mixed messages, whether you go to work or you don't go to work, whether you can see your mum and dad or you can't see your mum and dad?"

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Natalie Davies said she worried loosening restrictions in England could cause another spike in coronavirus cases

Rules have been relaxed in England, meaning people can "drive to other destinations".

Police forces have the power to fine people for making non-essential journeys and that includes those travelling from England into Wales.

In Chepstow in Monmouthshire - which borders Gloucestershire - Natalie Davies said she was concerned about the consequence of increased travel.

She said: "If we have more freedom now potentially within two weeks from now the R rate could have increased greatly and then we are left with obviously more infection again in the area, we could go back down again into a much stricter lockdown."

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Tim Melville did not want to see commuter congestion return to Chepstow

The advice for people returning to work in England has been to avoid public transport because of social distancing.

Tim Melville, from environmental group Transition Chepstow, said he did not want to see a return of the commuter congestion through his town, known as the "Gateway to Wales".

"We've seen how people work from home, not everyone can," he said. "But let's try everyone working one or two days a week from home but also stagger those times that people go to work, so that we don't get that congestion, we don't get that pollution."

Image source, Family photo
Image caption,
Megan and Spencer Smith say they do not know if they should listen to the Welsh Government or their employers

Spencer Smith lives in Wrexham but works in the Ironbridge Museums in Shropshire. His wife Megan works as a teacher in the Wirral.

"What are we supposed to do?" he asked BBC Wales. "Listen to what our government says and stay home or listen to our employers who could easily say that we have to go back to work?

"I tend to think that I'll stay home because I don't want to catch this thing... but I do worry about those who must return to the workplace."

A UK government spokesman said the guidance on workplace safety in Wales and England was similar, and people could travel to work if they could not work from home.

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Llanymynech Golf Club has 15 holes in Wales and three in England

In England, people can take "unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise" and participate in sports such as golf, tennis and fishing with members of their household.

But what does that mean for Llanymynech Golf Club, which straddles the border between Montgomeryshire, Powys and Shropshire?

It has 15 holes in Wales, two in England and one, the par-four fourth, where you tee off in Wales and putt out in England.

Wales Golf said courses in Wales "must remain closed for now".

A statement from Llanymynech Golf Club said: "We have many difficult decisions to make as a golf club in order just to survive, without having to deal with governing bodies that fail to agree on suitable, sensible guidelines that not only protect the public but the very existence of sporting clubs."

It said the club was affiliated to the English Golf Union and its guidelines agreed with the government allowed "a limited amount of golf to be played in a controlled and safe manner".