Bedford residents CAN travel in and out of the Borough, following clarification of the latest guidelines from national officials.
Bedford was among eight areas that were advised to restrict non-essential travel due to the rise of a new coronavirus variant of concern.
This lead to confusion with many residents fearing that they would have to cancel half term and Bank Holiday plans.
To clarify the local situation, Bedford Borough Council has released the following statement: “Following the national coverage of recently revised guidance we have met with national officials and confirmed there are no restrictions on travel in or out of Bedford Borough: There are no local lockdowns.
“In areas where the new COVID variant is spreading we are all working together to boost testing and vaccination and to support self-isolation.
“There are sensible public health precautions people can take as individuals in line with the sorts of advice we have all been following throughout the pandemic.
“We will keep sharing that and working with national officials to make sure people understand what they need to think about as they go about their daily lives.”
In the House of Commons this afternoon, shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, asked the vaccine deployment minister, Nadhim Zahawi to clarify the government’s position.
He suggested that only essential travel was permitted in and out of the eight affected areas.
However, this advice has been superseded by today’s statement from the Council.
Following Mr Zahawi’s comments, Bedford and Kempston MP, Mohammad Yasin said: “The Government are at pains to say this guidance, which astonishingly no one was actually guided to, won’t be enforced by law, but that doesn’t help anyone know for sure what they should be doing to prevent the new variant of concern spreading.
“Why put out advice, then tell people they don’t have to follow it? Surely these restrictions are needed or they are not.
“Over recent weeks, we’ve been told that we can and can’t travel out of the country and now we are being told that we can but we shouldn’t travel outside of our town.
“It’s an absolute shambles. The Government need to get a grip now and come up with a clear plan for the people of Bedford.”
Richard Fuller MP was approached by the Bedford Independent for comments throughout the day but has not provided one.
Local advice: get tested and get vaccinated
Surge testing and additional vaccination slots have been deployed in Bedford Borough to help combat the spread of the virus.
The council reiterated its advice for residents to take extra care, and continue to follow Hands, Face, Space and Fresh Air guidelines.
If you’re meeting with friends or family meet outside wherever possible where the virus particles can be blown away.
“We’re asking everyone in Kingsbrook, Cauldwell, Queens Park and Wixams to carry out a PCR test to identify any cases so that they can self-isolate,” said the council spokesperson.