By Leah Conway –
Kirklees is one of eight COVID-19 Indian variant ‘hotspots’ that the Government have advised people not to travel in and out of unless necessary.
The other hotspots include:
- Kirklees Council
- London Borough of Hounslow
- North Tyneside
The advice was published on Friday on the government’s website but was not announced. Downing Street has since reiterated that it is guidance, not a law, which has prompted criticism.
Some local authorities and MPs have revealed that they were not consulted about the advice. Yasmin Qureshi, Labour MP for Bolton South East said that she had not been informed and commented: “They’re making such an important announcement and they don’t even have the decency to tell us or tell our constituents.”
Recently elected West Yorkshire Mayor, Tracey Brabin, has called on the Government for clarification. Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said: “I had hoped the government had learned from their mistakes during this pandemic and would now prioritise working in partnership with local areas to give communities clarity on what they are being asked to do, why they are being asked to do it, and how they will be supported.
“Updated guidance, slipped out on a Friday teatime on the cabinet office website, is, frankly, shocking.
“We need to remember that this is people’s lives and livelihoods: these areas have been under some form of restrictions for over a year now.
“Testing, isolation and vaccination are the ways to effectively tackle local outbreaks, not punishing those communities by creating confusing, anxiety and concern.
“I spoke to Nadhim Zahawi this morning, and I was grateful he apologised.
“I am now seeking urgent clarification from government about support packages for those people who are now advised that they shouldn’t travel for work and we need clarity on what the criteria is for these restrictions and what is the roadmap out of them.
“Today highlights the urgent need for people to take their vaccine when invited. I was happy to have my second jab last week and I urge everyone in our community to do the same. Having your vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones and get back to normality.”
Leader of Kirklees Council, Cllr Shabir Pandor, said: “The council was not notified about changes to the advice on travel in and out of Kirklees and we are seeking clarification from the government. Nevertheless, our message to people in Kirklees is clear.
“Rates of infection in Kirklees are high and we’re asking residents to keep themselves and their community safe. That means taking part in testing regularly and isolating when you need to. Limit your contact with people outside your household, keep social distancing and meet outdoors if you can. As soon as you are eligible, it’s really important to get vaccinated.
“Tomorrow we will start surge testing in key locations across Kirklees. We are also working with NHS colleagues and government to deliver vaccinations faster and make them even more accessible to everyone in our community. If we work together, we will bring infections down and protect our community and our economy.”
“It’s not good enough”
Tracy Brabin, @MayorOfWY has criticised new COVID-19 guidance for Kirklees being communicated by Government without an official announcement. She’s called for urgent clarification on what support will be available. #HeartNews pic.twitter.com/oAjbxJMNWO
— Heart Yorkshire News (@HeartYorkNews) May 25, 2021
What is the Government’s advice?
As well as not travelling into or out of Kirklees and the other affected areas. The government has advised that people to:
- Avoid indoor gatherings and meet outside where possible.
- Maintain social distancing with people that are not in your support bubble.
- Only to travel in and out of affected areas if it is essential. For example, for work or education.
Last week Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, said that there would be more surge testing in Kirklees but did not mention any specific rules or travel advice that has now been issued.