The government is advising against all but essential travel to and from the eight areas of England most badly affected by the so-called Indian variant, it has been revealed.
Blackburn with Darwen, Bolton, Leicester and the London borough of Hounslow are all included on the list.
The latest guidance tells people in these places to meet outside rather than inside wherever possible and to keep 2 metres apart when social distancing.
The advice adds that people should “avoid travelling in and out of affected areas unless it is essential” for their work or education.
Residents in these boroughs are also encouraged to take a free Covid-19 test twice a week and get the vaccine as soon as they are offered it.
The information is thought to have been published quietly on the government’s website on Friday.
Watch: Hancock urges people to get the jab as Indian variant surges in Bolton and Blackburn
It comes as hospital admissions at the Royal Bolton Hospital increased to 43 on Monday, ten patients more than it had over the weekend, according to the Manchester Evening News.
Bolton currently has the highest infection rate in England, with a weekly average of 450.7 cases per 100,000 people. This figure is up from 282.4 in the week up to 13 May.
Responding to the news of the latest advice, Bolton South East MP Yasmin Qureshi told The Bolton News that she was “very angry” that her constituents had been left in a “very difficult situation”.
“I was not told about this new guidance and I don’t think anybody,” she said.
“I have only just found out about this new guidance, and it just shows the incompetence of the government in dealing with this.”
Ms Qureshi, who was hospitalised with Covid-19 last year, added that ministers were far too slow in putting India on the travel “red list” in an attempt to stop the spread of the B.1.617.2 variant.
Watch: Pfizer and AstraZeneca jabs effective against Indian variant