RESIDENTS and politicians have criticised the Welsh Government’s plans to implement a five-mile radius restriction on those seeking to see friends and family from Monday.

On Friday afternoon first minister Mark Drakeford announced a “general” five-mile radius restriction.

But people living in more spread-out, rural areas have said this unfairly penalises them in comparison to those in towns and cities who may live much closer to their friends and family.

Many people largely-rural Monmouthshire have expressed particular concerns about the new guidance.

Mother-of-three Ellie Laws, who lives more than five miles from Monmouth and Chepstow, said she would like to have seen Wales follow the advice in place in Scotland, where no distance restrictions are in place.

“My son lives in Cardiff and my parents-in-law live in the Brecon Beacons,” she said. “My kids can’t see their friends because they are well over five miles away.

“It is a long time for them since they’ve seen friends or family.

“It is understandable that there is a step by step measured approach, but this restriction seems arbitrary – particularly when there are no such restrictions in England.”

Cllr Peter Fox, leader of Monmouthshire council, said he was "extremely disappointed" by the five-mile limit, saying: "This discriminates massively against families living in rural communities such as we have in Monmouthshire.

“Many people will struggle to see the logic of this arbitrary distance, especially when they can already drive a lot further than this to shop, go to a garden centre, or indeed go to work.

“I am very fearful for the well-being of many people who will not benefit from the latest changes but are genuinely suffering in the grip of restrictions and who are lonely and desperate to see their loved ones.”

Cllr Richard John took to social media to echo those sentiments, adding: “There’s more to Wales than cities and the south Wales valleys.”

And Plaid Cymru's shadow health minister Rhun ap Iorwerth has said the new guidance represents “a Cardiff-shaped solution" to a "Wales-shaped problem”.

"Five miles means something very different in urban and rural areas," he said. “I’m glad he said that the limit shouldn’t be viewed as absolute, that geographic differences should be taken into account and that people should use their ‘judgement’. But clarity of communication is so important. The easiest thing would have been to try and tailor an approach that suits all of Wales, rather than stretch a Cardiff-shaped solution over a Wales shaped problem."

Many have supported the government over the decision, however.

Alison Denton, from the rural village of The Bryn near Abergavenny, said: “As of now Wales has one of the lowest rates of excess deaths of any region in the UK. A cautious approach is needed. It wouldn’t take much for us to be back at square one.

"Overall the Welsh approach has been about right. Presumably they are keeping things tight for as long as they can so that when they really have to relax the rules the R rate will be low enough and good test and trace in place so that we can manage that situation well."

Mr Drakeford has specified the five-mile limit is advice rather than a rule and people should "use their judgement".