GWENT Police officers are out in force this bank holiday weekend to deter tourists and day-trippers from visiting the region.

Officers are conducting checks on traffic coming over the border into Wales, where a stricter form of the coronavirus lockdown rules remains in place.

In the past week, the force has turned away would-be visitors to Wales, some of whom had driven more than 100 miles.

“If you're travelling to Wales – by bicycle, car, motorbike or other means – to our force area, it is possible that you may be stopped and our officers will be explaining the current requirements to stay home and stay safe," a Gwent Police spokesman said.

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“If you have decided to travel to Wales for a non-essential journey – for exercise or without a reasonable excuse – we will be asking you to return home."

Since March 27, the Gwent force has issued 71 fixed penalty notices to members of the public in connection with breaches of the lockdown rules.

While the UK initially took a four-nation approach to public health rules on social distancing, urging people to "stay at home, protect the NHS, and save lives", the three devolved administrations have since decided against relaxing those rules to the same extent as has been done in England.

While English residents are now free to spend more time outdoors, such as having a picnic or sunbathing in public, these activities are not allowed in Wales.

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The UK government has also permitted people in England to take day trips to outdoor areas – but the stricter rules in Wales mean English day-trippers must not cross the border.

But this has not prevented some from trying their luck at a journey into Wales.

In the past week, Gwent Police officers have stopped visitors from Herefordshire and the West Midlands. The furthest visitors to the area came from Guildford, Surrey – 114 miles away.

The force spokesman said patrols would "remain visible to members of the public across the bank holiday weekend" and advised would-be visitors to return to Wales only when it was safe to do so.

“We look forward to welcoming visitors and those living in our neighbouring areas back to Wales in the future and when the time is right," he said.

“However, we must reemphasise the message of the Welsh Government and the first minister of Wales: please visit Wales later; now is not the time.”