PEOPLE in Wales will be putting themselves at risk of contracting coronavirus if they travel to England to visit beer gardens, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said.

The Welsh Labour leader said people should “think very carefully” before going into England for a pint when hospitality businesses reopen for outdoor service from April 12, two weeks before Welsh businesses can do the same.

Mr Drakeford was speaking on Thursday after announcing new dates for Wales’ roadmap out of lockdown, including lifting travel rules on April 12, reopening outdoor hospitality from April 26, and reopening gyms on May 10.

He told the PA news agency that rates of Covid-19 in Wales are the lowest in the United Kingdom and that any unnecessary trips over the border to visit a pub, cafe, or restaurant put people at risk of picking up the virus.

Mr Drakeford said: “[Covid rates] are higher in England and the highest in the north-west of England.

“You would definitely be visiting somewhere where the risks were higher. We know there is a variant of this virus in Bristol, which so far we’ve managed to keep out of Wales completely.

“My message to people thinking about travelling across the border, in that couple of weeks before things are opening in Wales, is to think very carefully about it.

“You really will not have long to wait before you’re able to enjoy exactly the same sorts of things in Wales where the current state of the virus is more benign.”

Mr Drakeford said he considered bringing forward the reopening of outdoor hospitality in line with England’s date, but was warned by scientific and medical advisers that doing so risked a rise in transmissions.

“The advice was clear cut. The risks of doing so outweighed any rewards because we are opening such a lot of things on April 12 in Wales already,” he said.

“The advice was we really did need to wait two weeks to see whether those actions were having the effect of driving the virus numbers up again.”

Mr Drakeford admitted his frustration at being asked questions “as though England is always the template and everybody else has to be judged against what goes on there” when it came to comparing timings with Wales.

“Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England all have separate contexts and numbers. The numbers of people in Wales with coronavirus is lower and vaccination rates are higher than in England. They are not the standard against which everybody else is judged.”