The British government has canceled a recommendation to avoid travel to and from the eight regions most affected by the Indian coronavirus variant altogether. The revised guidelines were not announced anywhere, local authorities were not informed of them, and the announcement was only made public on the website. “This is not a new lockdown, it is not a law, it is advice,” the British Transport Secretary explained.
After criticism from local authorities and confusion over a vague statement, the UK government withdrew the recommendation to avoid travel completely to and from the eight regions most affected by the Indian coronavirus variant. The revised guidelines require minimum travel to and from Bolton, Blackburn, Kirklees, Bedford, Burnley, Leicester, North Tyneside and London Hounslow.
On Friday, a government website said that travel to these places was completely avoided, without any contact in this regard, not only without consulting the local authorities, but even without informing them of the changes.
This sparked protests from the provinces, most of which only discovered the new guidelines on Monday. There were allegations that the government was surreptitiously enforcing local restrictions.
As a result, the authorities in London issued a statement Tuesday evening, confirming that they do not impose local closures, but merely “advise on additional precautions that people can take to protect themselves and others” in the mentioned areas. In the travel advisory, the wording has changed from ‘avoid’ to ‘minimize’.
Transportation Secretary Grant Shaps acknowledged on Wednesday that communications on the issue should be clearer, but added that he did not believe that changing the recommendations “is actually that complicated.” “This is not a new lockdown, it is not a law, it is just advice,” he told the BBC, adding that the purpose of the announcement was to “remind people that they live in areas where the risk of transmission is greater.”
More than 2 million people live in the areas covered by these recommendations. To date, more than 5,000 cases of the Indian form of COVID-19 have been detected in England, 383 in Scotland, 62 in Wales and 15 in Northern Ireland.
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