The differences in rules between Wales and England

10 May 2020, 20:59 | Updated: 10 May 2020, 21:57

Wales and England Flags
Wales and England Flags. Picture: Global

After Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the UK on Sunday evening, he has indicated a number of changes to the lockdown rules in England.

However, in Wales First Minister Mark Drakeford had already confirmed on Friday that Wales' lockdown would continue for a further three weeks whilst confirming some small alterations.

Why are the rules different?

With the creation of the the Welsh Assembly (now the Welsh Parliament) in 1999, power for a number of areas were transferred from Westminster to Cardiff Bay. Since then a number of further powers have also been transferred following a referendum.

This means that whilst Boris Johnson is Prime Minister of the UK, there are some areas on which he and his Government can act only for England.

Health is one of the areas in which power is devolved to Wales and the coronavirus "lockdown" rules fall under this area, with responsibility resting with the Welsh Government, headed by First Minister Mark Drakeford.

It has been stated by a number of members of the Welsh Government that they believe the rate of transmission of the virus is different in different parts of the UK and for this reason it's been indicated the "speed" different countries in the UK move out of lockdown may now differ.

The Governments in Scotland and Northern Ireland have also confirmed their plans to stick with the "stay at home" focus, alongside Wales.

Closure signs at Pen y Fan
Closure signs at Pen y Fan. Picture: Getty

How do the rules differ?


In the new rules confirmed by the Welsh Government, an unlimited amount of outdoor exercise is now allowed but this must now be taken locally.

In announcing it First Minister Mark Drakeford said it should "begin and end at home". Ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend he ruled out driving to the mountains or to the beach as essential journeys.

Meanwhile, in England the rules also allow an unlimited amount of exercise, but sunbathing, or sitting in a park in a socially distanced way were given as acceptable examples. Driving away from home to carry out exercise has also been allowed.

But the Welsh Government's Counsel General (the top legal adviser to the Welsh Government) Jeremy Miles said:

"Our regulations do not permit people to get in their cars and drive to destinations in Wales - and that means people getting in their cars in England."

He added that the police had power to fine people ignoring the rules.

Each of Wales' police forces issued statements on Twitter to over the weekend to confirm that their "stay at home" advice was not changing and that they would continue to enforce the regulations set out by the Welsh Government.


The Welsh Government has underlined that its advice continues to be to "stay at home".

This is despite indications by Boris Johnson that those who cannot work from home should now return to work, so long as social distancing is followed.

Here in Wales, it has already been made law that businesses must "take all reasonable measures" to ensure that two metre social distancing is applied in workplaces.

Shops, libraries and recycling centres

The Welsh Government has given the go-ahead for Garden Centres to re open so long as they can institute social distancing in the same was as the other essential retail outlets that have been permitted to remain open.

Meanwhile, they have given Local Authorities the opportunity to begin planning how libraries and recycling centres could begin to return to service.


Wales' Education Minister Kirsty Williams has already confirmed that schools would not reopen in Wales from the start of June.

In England, Boris Johnson suggested that some pupils would potentially return at the start of next month. In Wales, Kirsty Williams says she will set out plans this week on the further steps, but said they would only reopen for more pupils and teachers when it was safe to do so.