‘Difficult decision’: Leicester gets UK’s first local lockdown as COVID-19 cases soar

Home UK ‘Difficult decision’: Leicester gets UK’s first local lockdown as COVID-19 cases soar
‘Difficult decision’: Leicester gets UK’s first local lockdown as COVID-19 cases soar

Leicester will go back into lockdown while the rest of the country celebrates pubs and restaurants reopening after a spike in local cases, it was announced today.

Non-essential shops in the city will shut again tomorrow and schools will close from Thursday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the House of Commons this evening.

People living in Leicester are being urged to "stay at home as much as they can" and the nationwide easing of lockdown planned for 4 July does not apply to them, he said.

This means pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers preparing to reopen will have to delay their plans.

Travel in and out of the city should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.

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The relaxation of rules for people who are shielding in the area – planned for 6 July – cannot go ahead either, Mr Hancock said.

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It comes after figures revealed Leicester accounts for 10% of all positive coronavirus cases reported across the country over the past week, with 135 per 100,000 people. It has three times the amount of infections of the next highest city.

A walk-in testing centre is also being set up in the city for people with symptoms, with extra funding going to all Leicestershire councils to help support businesses and those forced to self-isolate.

Authorities will help workplaces who have seen a cluster of cases and help them become more "COVID-19-secure".

Mr Hancock said the measures will be reviewed in two weeks and will not be in place "any longer than necessary".

They will not only apply to the city of Leicester but also to the surrounding area, he added.

The health secretary said: "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 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.

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

Children whose parents are key workers will still be able to go to school, he added.

Reacting to the decision, Leicester Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby described the move as "disappointing".

But he told Sky News: "There are obviously challenges here in Leicester and the sooner we get them sorted out the sooner we can get on with unlocking in the way the rest of the country is."

He added: "Getting on top of the outbreak is a very high priority. We were a bit sceptical, but on reflection I think it's a very sensible thing for them [the government] to do."

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