Non-essential shops in Leicester will close from Tuesday and schools will close to most pupils from Thursday as part of restrictions imposed after a rise in coronavirus cases, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs. Mr Hancock said the easing of the lockdown planned for the rest of England on July 4 cannot happen in Leicester because of rising cases.
He said: “Given the growing outbreak in Leicester we cannot recommend that the easing of the national lockdown set to take place on July 4 happens in Leicester.”
This comes as the rest of the United Kingdom prepares for an easing of social distancing measures on July 4.
Mr Hancock also urged people not to travel to, from or within the city.
He said: “We do not take these decisions lightly, but with the interests of the people of Leicester in our hearts.”
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He also explained there would be extra funding to help councils, and support for businesses during this time.
Professor Karol Sikora, a former World Health Organisation professor, told talkRADIO: “It does seem that perhaps surprisingly the pictures of the beaches last week and the demonstrations the weeks before didn’t seem to arise to anything.
“That could be because people travelled some distance to get there so it wasn’t one community.
“The Leicester thing is probably one community behaving in a way that means they are more likely to test positive.
The shadow health secretary told the Commons: “People in Leicester were concerned, anxious and scared to read in the newspapers and see on the TV screens yesterday news that we were going into some form of lockdown based on anonymous briefings.
“Grandparents who had recently formed bubbles to see their grandchildren were asking me whether they had to withdraw again, parents were asking about whether they could send their children to school today. Those shielding were particularly worried.”
Mr Ashworth added: “I understand that things get leaked and so on, I’ve been around politics a long time, I understand that.
“But can I just urge (Mr Hancock) to appreciate that something with this seriousness and sensitivity, people need crystal-clear clarity and not briefings perhaps from over-eager advisers.”
From Saturday, July 4, England is preparing to ease lockdown restrictions, with pubs, restaurants and cinemas permitted to open from this date.
Strict social distancing measures will remain in place, with businesses having to ensure customers can maintain a distance from one another.