LEADING doctors in Bradford have urged people not to blame specific communities for the new local restrictions and spread of coronavirus.

The Government announced late on Thursday night that households in several areas in the North would be banned from meeting each other indoors from 12am on Friday after a rise in the rate of infections.

This included Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale, Great Manchester and parts of Lancashire.

It later emerged that the restrictions also prevent two households meeting in private gardens (except where you have formed a support bubble).

But those who live together can visit indoor venues such as pubs and restaurants.

The decision, and in particular the timing of it, sparked fierce debate - from those claiming it was an attack on the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha (which began on the Friday), to many blaming BAME communities for the restrictions.

Craig Whittaker MP, whose West Yorkshire seat of Calder Valley was one of the areas affected by the new measures, boldly claimed the Muslim community was not taking the pandemic seriously, when speaking to LBC.

He said: “If you look at the areas where we’ve seen rises and cases, the vast majority, but not by any stretch of the imagination all areas, it is the BAME communities that are not taking this seriously enough.”

Bradford was fourth on the latest infection rate list, which is released every Friday.

It showed the city's rate had risen to 46.4 from 45.4 the week before, with 249 new recorded positive cases of coronavirus in the seven days to Tuesday, July 28.

But Dr Amir Khan, a GP in Bradford who has appeared on TV a number of times, feels this emerging narrative that the BAME community are to blame for the rise in the infection rate, and therefore the imposition of local restrictions, is entirely unfair.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast he said: "People are adapting.

"There's a slight narrative around some of these cities that it's the BAME community that are causing a problem with spreading the virus.

"I think that's really unfair because, in my experience, I work in inner-city Bradford, a lot of my patients are from a BAME background and they've worked really hard over this entire lockdown period to stick to the rules.

"So I think this narrative is very unfair.

"We've got to remember a lot of people from BAME backgrounds work in key worker jobs, as well.

"A lot of my patients are taxi drivers, bus drivers, shopkeepers - all of these people were necessary to keep the economy ticking, to keep the country going during the pandemic.

"So, for now, for some people to say, well, 'these are the people to blame', is really really unfair.

"Because we've all been getting takeaways, we've all been getting public transport during this pandemic and we shouldn't now be blaming the same people who helped us during the lockdown."

Dr Mahendra Patel, who is working in Bradford, reiterated this message.

He also felt that announcing the new restrictions via Matt Hancock's Twitter was disgraceful and he sympathises with those who had big plans for Eid.

Dr Patel said: “It was surprising. It’s great they’re doing something in terms of concerted action rather than dithering but then this has come at a time when you’ve got Eid here.

"Celebrations of Eid will have started on Thursday. They might even not have seen this.

“I feel for those celebrating it in that respect in terms of this messaging.”

“You don’t want to get that message that this is just one community or one group of people.

"This is a whole other community across the spectrum.

"In Bradford you’ve got a mix of a leafy suburb and in the inner city area you’ve got deprived communities as well.”

Despite the new restrictions many people in Bradford were able to enjoy the Islamic festival safely and abiding by the new guidelines.

Instead of visiting extended family, people stayed in their gardens and celebrated with their immediate loved ones.

One mosque, Masjid-E-Umar in Girlington, was granted permission to use Whetley Fields for socially-distanced prayer.

The organisers gave details on its website ahead of time so that those wishing to attend were fully aware of their responsibility to keep themselves and others safe.

This included strict rules against congregating in groups and asking people to leave the prayer immediately after it had finished, as well as having attendees bring their own prayer mats, masks and bags for shoes.

Mohammed Rauf, said: "Masjid Umar, excellent organisation to ensure social distancing and all checks in place too."

It proves when everyone comes together, life can continue, albeit in a different way.

Dr Patel feels communities acting as one is the key to riding out the new restrictions and rise in infection rate.

He said: “Having this virus, giving full respect to this virus at every second of your life – a lot of people are not wearing face masks even when they going out.

"The important part is putting your face mask on properly.

"You see them struggling.

“There’s a rising number (of cases) in the younger people.

"The parties and celebrations going on like Leeds United going up.

"The fact is I've been to these celebrations, I stayed in my car, I wouldn’t get out, being an avid fan since I was a child.

"I saw lots of people dancing and it was still a large crowd.

"The other thing is some of the gestures we have in greetings particularly hand shakes and hugging, and some people may not have seen their loved ones and start hugging, just be careful with that. That needs to be in some kind of perspective.

“The message around the different communities of like the Indian, the Pakistanis, the Bangladeshis, in the mosques, in the Gurdwara, in the churches, we need to work on that to get them to work with their communities so they can support them.

“This is everybody’s problem.

“It’s great that people need to get out to keep the economy moving but there has to be some clarity about that and how people behave.

"If you don’t do something this virus is going to eat you up.

"It’s not going to just eat you up it’s going to eat the community.

“It’s affecting the inner cities, the more well to do areas as well.

“This is us working together as all the different communities, playing a part in the spread of the virus.

“Lockdown did help and it brought the numbers really down. Keep away from people, outside and two metre distancing. It works.

“Let’s now work together.

“I’m worried about the long term mental impact COVID has caused, even for people that have been okay but having to deal with the new life and being indoors.”