Parts of local coronavirus lockdown in Leicester must stay in place, Matt Hancock announces

Gallowtree Gate in Leicester, where localised coronavirus lockdown restrictions have been in place since June 29. (PA)
Gallowtree Gate in Leicester, where localised coronavirus lockdown restrictions have been in place since June 29. (PA)

Leicester’s lockdown has been extended for a further two weeks with some restrictions eased, Matt Hancock has announced.

The health secretary told MPs that restrictions on schools and early years childcare in the city will be eased on 24 July.

The restrictions on non-essential shops were also being slightly eased, with local authorities being given the power to close at-risk stores.

Pubs and restaurants are to remain closed until further notice and the government is still advising against all but essential travel to and from the city.

Social gatherings of more than six people are also still against the rules.

Health secretary Matt Hancock told the Commons that the lockdown would remain in place, with a partial easing. (PA)
Health secretary Matt Hancock told the Commons that the lockdown would remain in place, with a partial easing. (PA)

Hancock said the latest data shows that the seven-day infection rate in Leicester is now 119 cases per 100,000 people and the percentage of people testing positive is now at 4.8%.

He compared the figures to when the lockdown was imposed and the seven-day infection rate was 135 and 10% of tests were positive.

The city was put into a prolonged lockdown on 29 June after a spike in COVID-19 cases, with non-essential shops and schools forced to close, while the reopening of pubs and restaurants did not take place in line with the rest of England.

At the time the measures were announced Hancock said Leicester accounted for one in 10 cases across the country.

It was the first area of England to be subject to a local lockdown as the rest of the country slowly lifted restrictions.

The Labour mayor of Leicester, Sir Peter Soulsby. (PA)
The Labour mayor of Leicester, Sir Peter Soulsby. (PA)

Sir Peter also claimed the government had delayed giving the local council accurate data on the outbreak and claimed if the city had been given it earlier the lockdown could have been prevented.

Speaking after the announcement that the city would remain in lockdown, the mayor said he was “angry, frustrated, very disappointed” about the news that some lockdown measures will remain in place in the city, the Guardian reported.

Addressing the Commons, Hancock paid tribute to the people of Leicester and Leicestershire for their “perseverance and hard work”. Measures will be reviewed in a fortnight.

Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth, who is MP for Leicester South, told MPs: “If we still have to make further personal sacrifice to keep people safe and hunt this virus down with the lockdown, then so be it.

“But there’s no question there will be a degree of dismay across the city in response to the secretary of state’s remarks.”

Ashworth added that many businesses will want to know if they can get extra support if they cannot reopen.

There have been claims in recent weeks that clothing factories in Leicester had been failing to implement additional hygiene and social distancing measures during the pandemic.

Since Leicester was placed into lockdown the government as said it dealing with more than 100 COVID-19 outbreaks each week, but has refrained from putting any other area into a local lockdown.

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