The government’s attempt to “simplify and standardise” local lockdown rules with a three tier system has already fallen short after it was forced to quietly update an incomplete list of Tier 2 lockdown zones.
On Monday afternoon the “high alert” listings for Lancashire were released by Downing Street as:
Blackburn with Darwen
The repeated appearance of “Lancashire” in the list was an error that HuffPost UK was told, after querying it, should have read “Lancaster”.
But by Tuesday morning the list had also grown without any announcement to include Chorley, Fylde, Hyndburn, Pendle, Ribble Valley, Rossendale, South Ribble, West Lancashire and Wyre.
It means the entire county of Lancashire, including unitary authorities within its footprint, is now under tier 2 lockdown.
Middlesbrough had also been misspelled “Middlesborough” elsewhere in the list, though that too has now been corrected.
It came after a number of MPs missed out on lockdown briefings, seemingly because the government had not understood where their constituencies were.
Labour MP for Wigan and shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy tweeted: “Just learnt Greater Manchester will be placed into tier 2 restrictions via twitter. Apparently there was a government briefing for GM MPs but I can’t provide details because I wasn’t invited. I suspect this is because they don’t know where Wigan is. What an absolute shambles.”
Warrington North MP Charlotte Nichols was also invited to two different briefings as the government tried desperately to establish where Warrington actually was.
It is a regrettable string of errors by a government that has struggled in recent weeks to convince northern leaders they haven’t been left behind by an out-of-touch London-centric operation. Local chiefs in Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Preston, Warrington, Middlesbrough and Hartlepool all told us last week of their dismay that their areas hadn’t been given more say over lockdowns.
Boris Johnson’s plan for tackling coronavirus was voted on by MPs after documents revealed he had rejected recommendations from his scientific advisers for a “circuit-breaker” lockdown.
Official papers showed the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) suggested introducing a national lockdown in September lasting between two and three weeks to halt the rapid spread of the virus, with the government’s failure to act on the advice branded “alarming” by Labour.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “MPs and local areas are routinely informed of changes to local restrictions in advance of public announcements to make sure they aware of the impact of measures on their areas.
“When it was discovered that a small number of MPs had not been invited, alternative arrangements were made so that they could receive a briefing.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.