police check point Britain
© REUTERS/Rebecca Naden
A police check point in Kilgetty, Wales, Britain October 24, 2020.
Welsh police have nabbed a couple trying to take Christmas presents to relatives in Cardiff, sparking accusations that the enforcement of "draconian" Covid-19 measures has taken precedence over more pressing public safety issues.

The 'gift-smugglers' were turned away after travelling from Essex to drop off packages for their family in the Welsh capital, South Wales Police said, claiming that the culprits had violated recently-implemented Covid-19 legislation. Police did not disclose whether the pair were fined or faced other punishment for their apparent misdeed.

The couple were stopped as part of 110 random vehicle checks carried out in Cardiff over the past 24 hours, as part of a temporary measure aimed at ensuring that outside visitors were not engaging in any 'non-essential' travel. Twelve people have been slapped with fines and 15 others have received warnings since the new policing power was implemented on Friday. The searches will end in the late afternoon on November 29.

South Wales Police said that they also stopped a group of nine people who were travelling to visit friends at university.

There are no travel restrictions within Wales, but motorists are prohibited from crossing the Wales-England border unless they have a "reasonable excuse." Travelling for work or for "compassionate" purposes are among the authorized reasons to enter the country.

The zealous enforcement of the Covid-19 checks sparked considerable disgust on social media. One Twitter user compared the force to East Germany's infamous secret police, while several others accused Welsh cops of turning a blind eye to more serious matters.

"Totally ignore burglaries, anti social behaviour and the crimes people are concerned about but red hot on this, well done," read one reply.

"Put the presents down and step away from the car," joked another tweet.

One commenter humorously suggested that he would pay not to travel to Wales.

The cops enjoyed more support on Facebook, where several top comments applauded the force's efforts and urged the South Wales Police to "throw the book" at anyone caught driving across the border without good reason.

On Saturday, Wales reported 1,445 new positive coronavirus tests, as well as 29 deaths linked to the illness. The UK has reported over 78,000 cases and over 2,500 fatalities since the start of the pandemic.