| 18 April 2024, Thursday |

UK Government urges against travelling to eight Covid areas

UK government has asked people not to travel into and out of areas hit by the Indian variant of Covid-19 unless necessary, it has emerged.

Health officials said it was spreading fastest in Bolton, Blackburn, Kirklees, Bedford, Burnley, Leicester, Hounslow and North Tyneside.

Bolton in Greater Manchester recorded 451 cases per 100,000 people in the week to 20 May, the highest in England.

People living in the affected areas are also asked not to meet indoors.

On Friday, the government issued  recommendations those living in the listed areas:

  • Meet outside rather than inside where possible
  • Keep two meters apart from people who you do not live with (unless you have formed a support bubble with them), this includes friends and family you don’t live with
  • Avoid travelling in and out of affected areas unless it is essential, for example for work (if you cannot work from home) or education

The guidance appears to have been updated on Friday, without any government announcement, to include the eight affected areas – although it was first given earlier in the month for Blackburn and Bolton.

A televised Downing Street briefing on Wednesday focused heavily on the Indian variant – but did not outline any specific rules or guidance for those areas.

Yasmin Qureshi, Labour MP for Bolton South East and shadow international development minister, said she had not been informed and was “gobsmacked” by the updated guidance.

“They’re making such an important announcement and they don’t even have the decency to tell us or tell our constituents,” she said – adding that many people would have made plans to travel over the bank holiday weekend.

She said it was “not clear” whether “this is advisory or legally obligatory” and described the move as “incompetence” on the part of the government.