A CONSERVATIVE MP has claimed Muslim and BAME communities are not taking the pandemic seriously enough as his constituency was put into local lockdown.

Craig Whittaker’s Calder Valley constituency was included in the UK Government’s list of locations facing new restrictions due to spikes in Covid-19 cases.

New rules were imposed banning separate households from meeting indoors in Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the move was made because of a spike in coronavirus cases driven by a “lack of social distancing”.

READ MORE: Covid-19: Matt Hancock imposes restrictions on Greater Manchester

Speaking to LBC, he accused Muslim and BAME communities in his area of failing to follow social distancing rules.

He told the programme: "What I have seen in my constituency is we have areas in our community and sections of our community that are not taking the pandemic seriously."

Asked if he was speaking about the Muslim community, he said: “Of course.”

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

“I've been challenging our local leaders for... three weeks, asking what we are doing to target these areas to let people know that this is a very serious problem.

"Until people take it seriously, we're not going to get rid of this pandemic.

"We have areas of high multiple occupancy who are in the same boat... and it doesn't specifically have to be in the Asian community, but that is the largest proportion.

"Look at the areas. You've got Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees. Bradford, in particular, and Kirklees have two of the largest populations in West Yorkshire."

He was asked if he was referring to immigrant communities in the areas listed. He said: "Yeah, well, immigrant and Asian population.”

This morning Hancock was asked if the restrictions had been put in place last minute to curtail gatherings during the Muslim festival of Eid.

He denied that and said his “heart goes out to the Muslim communities in these areas”.

Later today at a press conference from the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson was asked to disown Whittaker’s comments. He refused to.

He said it is “up to everybody” to tackle coronavirus.

Miqdaad Versi, the media director of the Muslim Council of Britain, called Whittaker’s comments “appalling” and “truly nasty”.

He pointed to pictures of busy beaches and London bars taken during the pandemic and questioned why Muslim and BAME communities were being singled out.

“Let’s not pretend this is anything other than race baiting and trying to #blametheMuslims,” he posted online.