Boris Johnson has been told to stop falsely claiming that Weston-super-Mare was one of the first examples of a ‘local lockdown’.
The deputy leader of North Somerset Council has claimed that the comments are both ‘damaging’ and give a ‘false impression’ of the area which is ‘not helpful’.
The prime minister was asked this week about Leicester’s local lockdown, when he claimed that the policy had already been applied in the South West.
He said: ‘We are concerned about Leicester.
‘We’re concerned about any local outbreak.
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‘We need to have local lockdowns and local whack-a-mole strategies where that’s necessary.
‘It’s worked in places like Weston-super-Mare, or where we’ve had outbreaks in GP surgeries in London.
‘And that’s the same approach as we’ll bring to bear in Leicester as well.’
Johnson had previously made the claims more than once in parliament – including in response to Keir Starmer at Prime Minister’s Questions.
He said: ‘Everybody understands and we have seen across the country when there are outbreaks, for instance in Weston-super-Mare or in GP surgeries in North London, there have been local lockdowns and crackdowns.’
But while the hospital was closed to the public following a rise in cases amongst staff, it was temporary, and the town of Weston saw no wider restrictions.
Lib Dem councillor Mike Bell said that the claims were becoming ‘damaging’.
He told Bristol Live: ‘It’s incredibly frustrating that the prime minister and government continue to spin this line that Weston-super-Mare went into ‘local lockdown’.
‘Whilst I appreciate the need for the government to make it look like they’re in complete control of the battle against COVID-19, it really is not helpful and is indeed damaging to keep creating false impressions like this.
‘The reality in Weston is that there was an outbreak based at the local hospital and the only action that was taken was to close the hospital to new patients and carry out an effective testing and tracing process.
‘Test and trace was, of course, something that should’ve been happening all along as is becoming increasingly apparent.’
He added: ‘We did not have a local lockdown, we were not advised to have a local lockdown, we were given no guidance as to what our local lockdown might look like in any event and had no powers offered to deliver it anyway.
‘North Somerset Council, Weston Hospital and Public Health England dealt with our outbreak strongly and appropriately.
‘It wasn’t a lockdown and the government needs to stop saying it was.’