The government has updated its advice on travel for residents of eight areas of England worst-affected by the so-called Indian variant of Covid-19 following widespread criticism of further mixed messaging on travel rules.
Downing Street on Tuesday (25 May) denied trying to impose local lockdowns "by stealth" after several local authorities and their respective MPs said the changes, published quietly on 14 May, came without warning or consultation.
Initially, people living in Bolton, Blackburn, Kirkless, Bedford, Burnley, Leicester, Hounslow and North Tyneside were advised to avoid all non-essential travel.
This was later amended to ask people to minimise travel in and out of their local areas. Additionally, people have been asked to strictly observe social distancing of two metres and meet people from other households outdoors.
A government spokesperson said ministers amended the advice "to make it clearer we are not imposing local restrictions", the BBC reports.
They added the aim was instead to provide advice on additional precautions people can take to protect themselves and others in areas where the new variant of Covid-19 is prevalent.
A spokesperson for the prime minister said the advice was designed to help people "exercise good judgement".