New guidance in areas facing increased levels of the Indian variant of Covid-19 is causing new challenges for hospitality business, who are facing queries and cancellations.

Ministers have been accused of introducing local Covid restrictions by the backdoor, after advice against travelling in and out of eight areas in England was published without an announcement.

The guidance, which was shared online at Gov.uk on Friday, tells people to avoid travelling in and out Bedford, Blackburn and Darwen, Bolton, Burnley, Kirklees, Leicester, Hounslow, and North Tyneside, unless the journey is essential.

It also advised people to avoid mixing indoors with people outside their own support bubble or family.

Following a backlash, the government said on Tuesday it would update the guidance, insisting it was up to individuals whether to follow it.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospiality, said: “It is causing particular challenges for hospitality and tourism businesses who are facing customer queries and cancellations - uncertainty hampers confidence.”

Downing Street said there would be no extra financial support made available for the hospitality sector, local authorities or other businesses in the hotspot areas beyond what is already available.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman stressed the new guidance was “not statutory” and said No 10 intends to move away from “top-down edicts” as the threat of Covid lessens.

He said: “We have talked before about where we are at this stage in the pandemic in the UK, where we are able to move away from top-down edicts from the Government and start transitioning to a position where we have moved back to where the public are able to exercise their good judgment, as they have done throughout. We will continue to monitor the situation.”