Ministers have been accused of creating “confusion and uncertainty”

Government guidance online says 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”.

But this is causing confusion for many health care chiefs in the local authorities affected because they have not been informed of these restrictions formally.

Asked whether a family from Bolton, where the new guidance has been issued, should go ahead with half-term holiday plans to a “green list” country, Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said: “I’m not going to give individual travel guidance on some hypothetical situations to people in different parts of the country.

“The guidance is very clear that people need to consider whether it really is essential.

“I’m conscious that the green list is there, it is there for a purpose because we recognise the amount of transmission in that country is very low, so the risks of bringing the variant back into the UK are very low, and that’s why we have the process that we have.

“But I think people just need to consider carefully the risks that they are under themselves.

“But that’s why I really want to praise the communities who have stepped up with the extra support that has gone in there to target the vaccinations and make sure people are just generally very aware this particular variant is more transmissible and this I think is a sensible approach.”

Sir Keir Starmer has tweeted that Westminster needs to “provide clarity, fast” for the areas affected.

He wrote: “Making a major change that will impact so many people without even telling them is utterly shameful.

“The Government needs to provide clarity, fast. Local lockdowns are the wrong approach for both public health and local economies.

“We need proper support to self-isolate, decent sick pay, a working test and trace system and the roll out of the vaccine as quickly as possible.”


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