Johnson Forced Into U-Turn Over Travel to England Covid Hotspots
(Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government was forced to backtrack over its attempt to restrict travel to coronavirus hotspots in England where the so-called Indian variant is spreading.
The U-turn came after ministers were accused of introducing “local lockdowns by the back door” with the new guidance against travel to eight areas in England, which was published without fanfare online late last week but didn’t reach the attention of local leaders for several days.
By late Tuesday that was downgraded to advice to “minimize travel in and out of affected areas.” The move followed a backlash from members of Parliament and local leaders over the unclear guidance, which led to the cancellation of public events and some people halting planned vacations.
“I’m really sorry it’s disrupted people’s plans,” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told BBC radio on Wednesday. “The better these things are communicated the better. We will make sure that communication -- particularly with local health authorities -- works as smoothly as possible in future.”
The government travel guidance applies to eight areas including Hounslow in west London, the central England city of Leicester and the northwest towns of Blackburn and Bolton.
After a rapid rise in cases of the coronavirus variant first identified in India, Johnson has warned that the country is now in a race to get the population vaccinated more quickly than the virus can spread.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.