UK accused of slyly imposing local lockdowns

From left. Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England Professor Jonathan Van Tam, Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency Dr Jenny Harries take part in a coronavirus media briefing in Downing Street, London

The British government has been accused of introducing local lockdowns by stealth after it introduced tighter restrictions for eight local areas in England that it says are hot spots for the coronavirus variant first identified in India.

On Tuesday, lawmakers and local public health officials said they hadn’t been made aware of changes that the Conservative government published online last Friday.

In that updated guidance, it recommended that people within the eight localities, which includes Hounslow in west London, the city of Leicester and the towns of Blackburn and Bolton, shouldn’t meet up indoors or travel outside their areas.

Yasmin Qureshi, a Labour Party lawmaker in Bolton, said she hadn’t been informed of the changes, saying it was “typical of this government’s incompetence.”

Cabinet minister Teresa Coffey said the updated guidance shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone as it just formalized “on the record” the outlines of what the government had been saying for days.

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