Kirklees residents vent their frustration as Government quietly updates Covid-19 local guidance without official announcement

People in Kirklees have spoken of their dismay after local restrictions were quietly changed without an official Government announcement.

View over Huddersfield in Kirklees where guidance for residents quietly changed on Friday over rising cases of the Indian variant of Covid-19. Picture: Getty

The West Yorkshire district is one of eight local authority areas in the country - and the only one in Yorkshire - which has seen the highest rate of cases of the Indian variant.

As a result, the Government updated guidance on its website on Friday without an announcement, urging residents in Kirklees, Bolton, Blackburn, Darwen, Bedford, Leicester, North Tyneside and Hounslow against travelling in and out of their local areas except for essential purposes.

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The update has prompted reactions of frustration and dismay among residents and local leaders, with many saying they had no idea about the change in guidance until after the weekend.

Newly elected West Yorkshire mayor Tracy Brabin added the change could cause “anxiety and confusion” and is due to give a press conference later today (Tuesday).

The Revd Canon Mark Umpleby, who is priest at United Benefice of Batley Church, said he had "no idea" of the update until Tuesday morning.

"The Government talks of its concern for mental health and then there is this shambles of no announcement," he tweeted.

"To say we are frustrated is a huge understatement."

Batley resident Graeme Rayner said that unless the new guidance was made law, many residents would be unlikely to adhere.

"Like the vast majority of people I've obeyed the restrictions throughout the pandemic for well over a year," said Mr Rayner.

"I've had both vaccination doses, employ social distancing and all members of my household take lateral flow tests twice a week.

"I've seen the impact the restrictions have had on the hospitality and entertainment sectors first hand, and this latest development does nothing to help. Unless this new "guidance" becomes mandatory, I will continue as I have done throughout - responsibly, sensibly, legally, but I will not be following the new guidance.

"If the government believe the new guidance to be required, they should make it legally enforceable and support businesses who have only just been able to reopen after months of disruption and hardship."

A Government spokesman said: “Working with local authorities, we took swift and decisive action to slow the spread of the B1.617.2 (India) variant by introducing surge testing and bringing forward second doses of the vaccine for the most vulnerable.

“We provided additional guidance for those living in affected areas when we became aware of the risk posed by the variant, to encourage people to take an extra cautious approach when meeting others or travelling.”

It is understood the guidance was introduced for Bolton on May 14, although it was not mentioned in an official announcement about beefed-up testing measures in the area published on the same date.

Other regions were included in the essential travel guidance as data from surge testing became available.

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