PEOPLE from Herefordshire planning to head to Birmingham to shop, meet friends or eat out are being asked to stay away as the city cracks down on a surge in Covid cases.

The warning comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock urged people to "minimise" travel into or out of Birmingham in a bid to stop the spread of the new "Indian" variant of Covid-19.

The city is on a direct rail route from Hereford, and is a popular destination for local shoppers.

The advice is guidance only and not enforceable, and applies to people from any part of the UK wishing to visit Birmingham.

It is another blow to the city's hospitality sector, which was already reeling at the decision earlier this week to delay full reopening.

Additional support from the Government, including surge testing, tracing, isolation support and maximising vaccine uptake, will be rapidly deployed in Birmingham.

Matt Hancock said: "We are doing everything we can to stop the spread of the Delta variant, and working with local authorities, we are providing a strengthened package of support in areas where cases of the variant are increasing.

"We know this approach has made a real impact in South London and in Bolton, where we have seen it stall rising cases.

"I urge people living these areas to get tested, come forward for your vaccine as soon as you are eligible and make sure to get the all-important second jab – that is how we will beat this virus."

Herefordshire is not currently an area of concern and is not under the same guidance as Birmingham.