Matt Hancock invites MP to crunch COVID meeting... 5 minutes after it started

James Morris
·Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
·3 mins read
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24: Health Secretary Matt Hancock speaks to a media crew near the Houses of Parliament on September 24, 2020 in London, England. As Coronavirus cases continue to rise in the UK, earlier this week the British Prime Minister announced new measures to help curb the spread of the virus.  These include shop assistants, taxi drivers and waiting staff to wear masks, pubs and restaurants to close at 10pm and only offer table service. Further restrictions on sporting events were also announced. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Under fire: Matt Hancock. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

A Labour MP was invited to a key briefing about the new local lockdown system... five minutes after it started.

Ahead of Boris Johnson’s launch of the three-tier plan on Monday, health secretary Matt Hancock carried out a series of video briefings with MPs representing areas that will be under restrictions.

Louise Haigh, the MP for Sheffield Heeley, tweeted a screenshot of her invite to a 2pm briefing on measures in west and south Yorkshire – which landed in her inbox at 2.05pm.

Haigh, the shadow Northern Ireland secretary, was responding to another Labour MP, Oldham West and Royton’s Jim McMahon, who had complained about being given 21 minutes’ notice for the Greater Manchester call.

Another MP said she was only given seven minutes’ notice...

...while others representing Greater Manchester constituencies said they didn’t even get an invite.

Later, addressing Johnson in the House of Commons, Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle MP Emma Hardy said the government’s Yorkshire briefing “failed to invite all Yorkshire MPs”.

“This shambles is creating confusion and fear and we need clarity,” she told the prime minister.

After asking how much notice MPs will get for future rule changes, Johnson said “the government at all levels has been in constant contact with authorities in Yorkshire for the last few days and I'm very grateful for their co-operation”.

Watch: Boris Johnson confirms new three-tier system of local lockdowns for England

Under the three-tier system, areas in England will be categorised in alerts levels set at either “medium”, “high” and “very high”.

Areas listed as “medium” will be subject to the same rules as those that currently apply across the country, such as the “rule of six” and 10pm hospitality curfew.

In the “high” alert level, which will apply to most of the areas already subject to restrictions, household mixing will be banned indoors.

The “very high” level will apply to areas causing the most concern due to high COVID infection rates and hospital admissions. Household mixing will be banned indoors and at outdoor gardens and hospitality venues, with pubs also forced to close unless they can operate as a restaurant. People will also be advised against travel in and out of the areas.

Liverpool was the only area to be categorised in this tier.

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