Great Britain

Yorkshire walkers should 'turn back at imaginary boundaries' under 'stupid' Covid advice, MP reveals

Walkers in Yorkshire beauty spots will face the perverse prospect of turning back at 'imaginary boundaries' when strolling the borderlands between Tier 3 to Tier 2 zones, an MP told Parliament.

While neighbouring Lancashire and South Yorkshire are now under the most severe restrictions, West Yorkshire remains in the less restricted second tier - for now.

But the practicalities of differing rules could create some strange scenarios for those living near county borders, as Labour politician Clive Betts told the House of Commons.

The Sheffield South East MP said: "Constituents of mine can walk to the pub in north-east Derbyshire, which will be in tier 2. The pubs will be open there and my constituents can go for a drink in them. They cannot go for a drink in my constituency, without a substantial meal. The Government are giving advice, but they are not actually enforcing it. What is going to happen in such cases?

"The most stupid thing of all—I know that the Minister will not have an answer to this because nobody could give me an answer on the Zoom call this morning; they tried to, but it was a piece of nonsense—is that in my constituency during the last lockdown, people got great enjoyment from walking in the Moss valley, where the footpaths run between Sheffield and Derbyshire.

"When people walk on those footpaths, they walk between a tier 3 area and a tier 2 area, but the Government advice says that they are not supposed to leave a tier 3 area.

"I asked this morning whether people should stop at the boundary on those footpaths, and then turn around and come back. It is an unmarked boundary, so people would have to look at an Ordnance Survey map to find its location. I was told that that is the Government guidance now—that is, if someone is walking on a rural footpath, with no chance of giving covid to anyone, they should stop at that imaginary boundary, turn around and come back. I am sorry, but it is that sort of stupid, simplistic advice that brings the whole system into disrepute."

Mr Betts, a former economist, went on to question holiday restrictions.

He said: "Let me turn to the travel restrictions. What we have been told this morning about going into tier 3 is that my constituents cannot go on holiday in the United Kingdom.

"But they can go on holiday abroad to any country that will have them. What does that say about helping the UK tourism industry? It is exactly the opposite of what Government were saying to people only a few weeks ago: “Go on holiday in the UK, not abroad.” Can the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, the right hon. Member for Hereford and South Herefordshire (Jesse Norman) confirm whether that is the case? The Health Minister this morning confirmed that it was."

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