New Covid guidance for Leicester 'incorrect', city council confirms

Leicester has had the most amount of local lockdown and tier restrictions than any other UK city, as it was on 'high alert' for most of last year. Credit: PA

The new Covid guidance on travel in and out of Leicester as well as indoor meetings from the UK government was "incorrect", Leicester City Council has said.

The change of guidance appears to have been made on Friday, on a government website, but only came to light today.

Now Leicester’s director of public health said government officials confirmed to him today: "There are no restrictions on travel in or out of our areas", before adding that any suggestions of the sort was a "mistake".

Professor Ivan Browne told ITV News Central: "We, of course, have met with officials to get clarity around the situation, particularly the issues around travel."

"We have been told very clearly from the national team is that there is no indication of restrictions being placed on the residents of Leicester," he added.

People were being urged not to travel to and from Leicester to help stop the spread of the Covid variant first identified in India.

Several other areas are now reporting the same confusing situation, saying they have now also been informed do-not-travel advice is incorrect.

'There is no indication of restrictions being placed on the residents of Leicester,' Leicester's director of public health tells ITV News Central

Professor Ivan Browne said: "The view was that this was seen as potentially helpful additional guidance for people who may want to know what they can do to just make sure in those areas where we know that there is transmission of the newer variants and how they can be more cautious about it."

The UK government was also advising people to take caution when meeting anyone outside of their household or support bubble.

"No-one from the Department of Health and Social Care or Public Health England contacted us about this advice, to explain the rationale behind it or give any other information.

"As it stands, Leicester has lower rates of the variant than other parts of the country, and we have a plan in place for stepping up our vaccination rate as agreed with the Government last week."

The new guidance advised people against hugging people they don't live with. Credit: ITV

The Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi explained the message the government was trying to get out in the House of Commons.

The advice was published last week on the UK government's website but not publicised and it is understood the measures were guidance and were not legally enforced.

According to the government guidance published online, people should "avoid travelling in and out of affected areas unless it is essential, for example for work (if you cannot work from home) or education".

It was also advised people against hugging people they don't live with, suggesting people from separate households should "keep two metres apart".

What was the new Covid advice for Leicester?

  • Meet outside rather than inside where possible

  • Keep two metres apart from people outside your household support bubble and this includes friends and family you don’t live with

  • Avoid travelling in and out of affected areas unless it is essential, for example for work (if you cannot work from home) or education

  • Get tested twice a week for free and isolate if you are positive

  • Continue to work from home if you can

  • Get vaccinated when you are offered it and encourage others to do so as well

Leicester went into local lockdown in July 2020 - this advice against travel has since been repeated due to the Indian variant. Credit: PA

The latest measures come as a further 59 people have tested positive for coronavirus across Leicester and Leicestershire in the last 24-hour reporting period, according to the Department of Health.

However, there still appears to be some confusion from the UK government on their guidance, as ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen reports.

Which areas have the government urged against travel to and from?

  • Bolton

  • Kirklees

  • London borough of Hounslow

  • Bedford

  • Blackburn with Darwen

  • Burnley

  • North Tyneside