Even minister admits to not knowing region’s latest Covid restriction rules

Education minister Gillian Keegan admitted on Radio 4 that even she, as a government minister, didn’t know what the latest Covid restriction rules say.
Labour said ministers “don’t know what’s going on” after Gillian Keegan said she did not fully understand the new rules, some 15 hours before they were to be imposed tomorrow (Wednesday September 30).Health Secretary Matt Hancock had announced a tightening of measures for Northumberland, Newcastle, North and South Tyneside, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham.

Aimed at stopping a resurgence of coronavirus, his department said laws would ban inter-household mixing indoors, including in pubs and restaurants.

But some questioned whether this would include meeting people from other homes outside in hospitality settings: essentially meaning beer gardens and outdoor licensed areas.

Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning (Tuesday), education minister Ms Keegan said: “I’m sorry I can’t clarify that.

“I don’t know the answer to that question but I’m sure they can find out the answer to that question.”

Pressed on how people are meant to keep up to date with the latest restrictions when ministers cannot, she said: “I’m sorry I can’t answer that question. I’m sure there are many people who could. I don’t represent the North East.”

Labour quickly seized on the failure to clarify the confusion over the laws, set to be imposed after midnight on Wednesday.

Shadow health minister Alex Norris said: “It speaks volumes that even the Government’s own ministers don’t know what’s going on.

“This will do little to inspire public confidence in the North East and across the country.

“The Conservatives’ incompetence is hampering our response to this pandemic.”

Watch this space for local reaction to this story later today.

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