The government issued guidance online advising people not to travel in and out of Kirklees, Bedford, Burnley, Leicester, Hounslow and North Tyneside and to not mix indoors in these areas due to concerns about the Indian variant, but did so without issuing an official announcement, sparking criticism.
Blackburn with Darwen’s director of public health Dominic Harrison said:
While Labour leader Keir Starmer added:
It comes amid growing concerns about the spread of the Indian variant across areas of England. Similar guidance was issued regarding Bolton and Blackburn earlier this month and Health Secretary Matt Hancock urged those living in these regions to get vaccinated.
And Therese Coffey has been the government’s fall guy this morning, after she was rolled out on broadcast to defend its communications policy. LBC’s Nick Ferrari asked her: “How were people meant to discover this, by telepathy?”
Meanwhile, on Good Morning Britain, Coffey said it was a “formalisation” of existing advice and said the government had made it clear it was concerned about the spread of the variant in these areas. Presenter Bill Turnbull said: “It may be a formalisation to you, but it’s very important to people who live in these areas who are only just finding out about it today.”