Confusion reigned late on Monday night – after the Government appeared to trail a non-essential travel ban only to water down the plan hours later.
Sources told BirminghamLive the measure was coming on Monday afternoon, in advance of the Prime Minister’s statement on the new three-tier system for dealing with coronavirus.
That was later confirmed by mayor Andy Street, who said: “You should only travel for essential reasons as of Wednesday.”
But the scant Government guidance which was then published contained only a recommendation to those in tier two areas – which covers Birmingham, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton – to “reduce the number of journeys they make where possible”.
The chaos came on a day when additional restrictions designed to curb the spread of coronavirus were announced – despite local protests.
Speaking before the guidance was published, Mr Street said: “You should only travel for essential reasons as of Wednesday.
“What is deemed essential is not fully clear but my understanding is that it does not ban travel for work or essential retail, but we are waiting on that detail.”
Those living in tier two areas have been banned from meeting up indoors with other households in hospitality settings, in what is deemed a major blow for restaurants, cafes and bars.
Local political leaders fought desperately to avert the new move because of the impact on the sector, citing contact tracing data showing only a tiny proportion of all cases in the city – around two per cent – were being caught in hospitality settings.
But even with the support of Conservative Mayor Mr Street, who has been speaking regularly to Health Secretary Matt Hancock to press the case, the Prime Minister has opted to go ahead with the move anyway.