The government is being urged to clarify new guidance that advises against all but essential travel in eight Covid hotspots, including Bolton, that have seen significant case numbers of the Indian variant.
Further guidance covering Bolton, Leicester, Kirklees, Hounslow, Bedford, Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley and North Tyneside was issued on the government website on Friday afternoon.
It advises people living in affected area to “meet outside rather than inside where possible” and “avoid travelling in and out of affected areas unless it is essential”.
Local leaders have criticised the government for publishing the advice without an official announcement, claiming they were unaware of the new guidance until this week.
Yasmin Qureshi, MP for Bolton South East and shadow international development minister, said: I was not informed of this and I understand nor was anyone else in Bolton.”
The Labour MP said she was “gobsmacked” and that the situation was “typical of this governments incompetence”.
Asked whether the new restrictions are effectively local lockdowns, Cabinet minister Therese Coffey told Sky News the guidance helps address “the need to be extra cautious in making sure we get a grip of the situation.”
The work and pensions secretary said she was surprised to hear that MPs in affected areas did not feel properly informed.
The prime minister set out that we need to take extra caution in certain areas regarding the Indian variant,” she said.
It is good practice to formally put that guidance on the record affecting those communities.”
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A government spokesperson said additional guidance has been provided “to encourage people to take an extra cautious approach when meeting others or travelling”.
Heath secretary Matt Hancock will address MPs in the House of Commons this afternoon when he takes an urgent question on the Covid-19 situation from Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth.
Meanwhile, Brits are being urged not to travel to ‘amber list’ countries for holidays after Spain reopened to UK tourists this week.
The county’s tourism minister said he would “not judge how countries are taking care of the health situation – but said he was sure Spain would make the UKs green list when a review is carried out in the first week of June.
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