Leicester becomes first British city to go back into lockdown

Leicester reimposes lockdown.
Leicester is the first area that has been locally locked down in England (Picture: AFP/Getty)

 

Leicester has become the first British county to have coronavirus restrictions reimposed following a surge in cases, with schools and non-essential shops to close from tomorrow.

Speaking in the Commons on Monday night, the health secretary announced that non-essential retail stores in Leicester must close again from Tuesday, with the measures applying also to the outer areas of the city, such as Oadby, Birstall and Glenfield.

Matt Hancock added that all schools will close again from Thursday but will remain open to the children of key workers and vulnerable pupils. He also advised against all but essential travel, while urging the public to stay home as much as they can until measures lift again with those shielding unable to come out as planned on July 6.

Pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers in Leicester will not be able to reopen on July 4 in line with the rest of England, as coronavirus cases are ‘three times higher than the next highest city’ said Mr Hancock.

The Government could also enforce stricter social distancing rules if the public does not follow them, said Mr Hancock, adding that officials will review measures in two weeks and they will not be kept in place ‘any longer than is necessary’.

Mr Hancock told MPs: ‘Having taken clinical advice on the actions necessary and discussed them with the local team in Leicester and Leicestershire, we have made some difficult but important decisions.

‘We’ve decided that from tomorrow, non-essential retail will have to close and as children have been particularly impacted by this outbreak, schools will also need to close from Thursday, staying open for vulnerable children and children of critical workers as they did throughout.

‘Unfortunately, the clinical advice is that the relaxation of shielding measures due on July 6 cannot now take place in Leicester.

‘We recommend to people in Leicester, stay at home as much as you can, and we recommend against all but essential travel to, from and within Leicester.

Social distancing advice on sign in Leicester, as the city?s spike in coronavirus cases has sparked a report that it may be the first UK location to be subjected to a district lockdown. PA Photo. Picture date: Sunday June 28, 2020. The Government says it is supporting officials in Leicester in their battle against Covid-19 after a report the city could be subject to Britain?s first local lockdown this week.
Non-essential shops and schools will close (Picture: PA)

 

‘We’ll monitor closely adhering to social distancing rules and we’ll take further steps if that is what’s necessary.’

‘We do not take these decisions lightly but with the interests of the people of Leicester in our hearts,’ Mr Hancock added. ‘Local action like this is an important tool in our armoury to deal with outbreaks while we get the country back on its feet.’

On other areas which also have a high intensity of cases, Mr Hancock said ‘we are of course looking across the country at the cities where this virus remains higher than elsewhere’.

MPs met in the Commons to discuss further measures to help Leicester officials tackle the outbreak, including the setting up of a walk-in testing centre for those with coronavirus symptoms.

The health secretary insisted that ‘anyone’ with symptoms in Leicester ‘must come forward for a test’.

Rakesh Parmer weighs out sweets at Ye Olde Sweet Shoppe in Leicester as the city may be the first UK location to be subjected to a local lockdown after a spike in coronavirus cases.
Non-essential shops must close from Tuesday (Picture: PA)

 

The measures come after there were more than 800 new cases recorded in the Leicester area in the last two weeks.

The announcement will come as a major blow to business owners and employees across the region who were preparing to reopen on Saturday after more than three months closed to the public.

Boris Johnson told Sky News earlier: ‘We are concerned about Leicester – about any local outbreak – and I want to stress to people that we are not out of the woods yet.

‘We have to remain vigilant and do the basics, washing hands and all that, plus we have to have local lockdowns and strategies’.

Members of the military operate a walk-in mobile Covid-19 testing centre at Spinney Hill Park in Leicester as the city may be the first UK location to be subjected to a local lockdown after a spike in coronavirus cases.
The health secretary urged all with symptoms in Leicester to get a test (Picture: PA)

 

It came after a biscuit factory in South Wigston, Leicester, allegedly saw a cluster of cases among workers.

An employee, who wished to remain anonymous, claimed five staff from one team at the Pladis factory had tested positive for Covid-19 last week.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said in the Commons: ‘The World Health Organisation tonight has warned that this virus is still spreading at speed and that those countries who have opened up are beginning to see a resurgence.

‘The virus remains deadly, it causes significant long-term harm and still demands a resolute response. If that means restrictions have to remain in place, whether in Leicester or elsewhere, or if restrictions have to be reimposed, whether in Leicester or elsewhere, then so be it.’

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