British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was forced to correct himself Tuesday after he initially gave conflicting information about stricter COVID-19-related social distancing rules going into effect in northeast Britain.
In the latest round of localized measures, the government announced a tightening of restrictions on socializing in northeast England effective midnight Tuesday in response to a surge in COVID-19 infection rates in the region.
In the affected area, which includes the large urban centers of Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland and Durham, residents are not allowed to meet with people from other households anywhere, outdoors or indoors, including in homes, pubs and restaurants.
Tuesday, after Education Minister Gillian Keegan had earlier expressed confusion about the new rules during a radio interview, Johnson was asked during a news briefing to clarify.
“Outside the areas such as the northeast where extra measures have been brought in, it’s six inside, six outside,” Johnson said, referring to the government’s “rule of six,” which applies in areas not subject to specific local restrictions.
After critics said the response appeared to contradict the information released by the Health Ministry, Johnson corrected himself on his Twitter account.
“Apologies, I misspoke today,” Johnson tweeted. “In the North East, new rules mean you cannot meet people from different households in social settings indoors, including in pubs, restaurants and your home. You should also avoid socializing with other households outside.”
With infection numbers rising again in different parts of the country, the government has said it wants to avoid a second national lockdown and instead is taking targeted local measures to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The opposition Labor Party issued a statement calling Johnson “grossly incompetent” for not knowing the rules.