NEW guidance has been published for people living in North Tyneside, which has emerged as a hotspot for the Covid variant first found in India, but leaders have hit out after not being told about it - here's what is going on.

Leaders in North Tyneside have said that they were not told about fresh guidance calling on people in Indian variant hotspot areas to limit their travel and social interactions.

The updated advice issued on Friday – which is not law – was published on the Government website without an official announcement. 

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Ministers have come in for criticism for sowing “confusion” in the way the latest guidance, which has fuelled speculation about regional lockdowns being brought back in, has been issued.

The government denied introducing local lockdowns 'by stealth'.

Here's everything you need to know.

What is the current advice for North Tyneside?

People should avoid travelling into and out of North Tyneside, only doing so if it is essential. Essential reasons include work and education, although people are encouraged to continue to work from home if possible.

Residents should also be tested twice a week, according to Government advice.

People should also meet outside rather than inside and keep two metres away from those in different households unless a support bubble has been formed. 

Reiterating the updated guidance, Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said people living in areas where the Indian variant is spreading should consider “whether it really is essential” for them to travel when asked about holidays this morning. 

The changes somewhat reverse the easing of restrictions on May 17, although the update is guidance and not law. 

Is North Tyneside under a local lockdown?

The guidance calls on people in North Tyneside to limit their travel and social interactions, which resembles a local lockdown but it is not officially so.

A Downing Street source, speaking to the BBC, denied it was local lockdown by stealth.

North Tyneside’s director of public health, Wendy Burke, said there had been no indication of any additional restrictions when an announcement about extra testing was made last week.

Why are the changes controversial?

Last Wednesday it was announced that in North Tyneside, along with five other areas in England, there would be urge testing and vaccinations.

But further changes were made on Friday without an official announcement, prompting criticism from local leaders. 

Ms Burke said: "When the announcement was made there was no indication it would come with any additional restrictions for North Tyneside or the other areas.

“We understand that, later, Government guidance around travel in and out of North Tyneside was posted on the Government website. This has not been accompanied by any communication to the local authority, local residents or businesses.

“We have already queried this with the Department of Health and Social Care to seek clarification. We will continue to work with Government on our enhanced testing and vaccination plan which is now in place.”

North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll said: “Nobody from central government had told us.

“I’m speaking to the minister in half an hour to get to the bottom of it.

“In the meantime, I’m going to leave it to my public health colleagues in North Tyneside Council to comment on the restrictions.  

“The last thing we need is more confusion.”

Arlen Pettitt from the North East Chamber of Commerce said: “This is absolutely ridiculous.

“How can you expect people to follow the guidance if you don’t tell them what it is?”

What else is happening?

Meanwhile, quarantine requirements will reportedly be maintained for those who come into contact with positive cases after June 21 even if they have received both doses of the vaccine.

A total of 153,093 deaths have now occurred in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, the ONS said.

The highest number of deaths to occur on a single day was 1,477 on January 19.

During the first wave of the virus, the daily death toll peaked at 1,461 deaths on April 8 2020.