Lockdown tightened in Leicester as cases rise

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed that Leicester will undergo the UK's first full local lockdown with stricter measures imposed in the city.

The announcement means that, from 30 June, shops that were allowed to open on 15 June will have to close again, whilst the city’s bars, restaurants and hairdressers will not open on 4 July as planned.

Furthermore, all schools in the area identified will be asked to close for most pupils from 2 July and will not reopen until next term. Five Leicester schools have closed since the beginning of June because of the number of coronavirus cases.

Hancock said that Leicester had ’10 per cent of all positive cases in the country over the past week’, adding that the new local measures would be in place for a minimum of two weeks, but kept under constant review, and ‘we will not keep them in place any longer than is necessary’. However, as a result of the move, the relaxation of shielding measures on 6 July - which will allow the most clinical-vulnerable to spend more time outside - will not take place in Leicester.

The Health Secretary said the number of positive coronavirus cases in Leicester was ‘three times higher than the next highest city’.

The latest figures obtained by Leicester City Council show that 3,216 Covid-19 cases have been confirmed in Leicester since the start of the epidemic. Of these, 944 cases were reported in the last two weeks. These figures include the number of patients and staff testing as positive in hospitals, known as Pillar 1 figures, and positive cases identified in testing centres, known as Pillar 2.

Sir Peter Soulsby, the Mayor of the city, said: “These measures are stricter than we anticipated but we understand the need for firm action. I am determined that we will make this work and to minimise the time these additional measures need to be in place in the city. We will of course continue to play our part in keeping people in the city safe and healthy.”

Nick Rushton, leader of Leicestershire County Council, said: “Protecting residents is our main concern and we’re working closely with Leicester City Council and the government to bring down the number of cases. Clearly coronavirus does not adhere to lines on a map. And although county rates are below the national and regional averages, we can’t be complacent and it makes sense to step up restrictions in areas closer to the city.

“This is the first localised lockdown on this scale and undoubtedly there will be issues to iron out. I understand this is disappointing news for residents, parents of schoolchildren and businesses when most of the country is opening back up but it’s crucial that people follow the latest advice. Observing social distancing, handwashing, wearing a face mask where required and getting tested if you have symptoms remain vital. Our actions play a key role in shaping what happens next and I encourage people to heed the advice and play their part in helping to save lives and livelihoods.”