Cooperation and convergence is what we need to fight the virus and open the economy

Today's easement to the Welsh restrictions are welcome, but leave many rural businesses frustrated and at a disadvantage to competitors
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Responding to the Welsh Government’s statement about easing Covid 19 restrictions, here.

“The Covid restriction boundary between England and Wales creates more misery and confusion for Welsh rural businesses near the English border, and more headaches for enforcement,” says CLA Cymru Director, Nigel Hollett. His comments come as the Welsh Government eased the local travel restriction in Wales today but continues to prevent travel across what has always been an entirely porous border.

“Medical safety is a priority, our steps in easing the restrictions must be taken with care – and we hope they are irreversible. But our 160-mile border from the Dee Estuary to the Severn is no barrier to disease and we should not be creating a synthetic one for the rural business community.”

“Welsh rural tourism businesses offering self-contained accommodation for few households, for example, will welcome the easement,” adds Nigel. “But they’re confronted with a challenging conversation with customers about where they come from, which may well cause offence.”

“Retailers and hospitality businesses on both sides of the border will continue to feel the effects of lockdown. Their plight should not be forgotten as perceptions bed-in that it’s business-as-usual for those distant from the border”

“We continue to hope we’re at the turning-point in defeating the virus – and we will not experience further restrictions later in the year. But England and Wales should be working closely together in a challenge which affects both countries. It’s important that the guidelines converge.”

“Rural enterprises must open in fair competition. Businesses in retail, tourism, hospitality and amenities need the reassurance and the support to see a clear way ahead towards full reopening of the economy. English and Welsh road-maps need to dovetail, and both governments need to develop safeguards to maximise the possibility that we’re on a path towards full and permanent opening. CLA Cymru we will continue working to support rural, land-based businesses on their journey to be open-for-business for all.”