The Prime Minister said the Government was “concerned about Leicester” where there has been a flare-up of coronavirus. On a visit to a construction site in west London, Boris Johnson said: “We are concerned about Leicester, we are concerned about any local outbreak.
“I want to stress to people that we are not out of the woods yet. We are making these cautious, calibrated steps, we are opening as much of hospitality as we can on July 4, opening as much of the economy as we can – some things, alas, still remain closed until they can become COVID-secure.
“But to make all that possible we have to remain vigilant.”
He said the local “whack-a-mole” strategy had worked in Weston-super-Mare and where there had been outbreaks around GP surgeries in London.
“That’s the same approach that we will bring to bear in Leicester as well.”
The Prime Minister’s comments come after Leicester recorded 866 new cases of coronavirus in the last two weeks – leading to speculation over the weekend that the city would be locked down.
City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby told LBC he was “angry and frustrated” that a meeting with Government officials scheduled for 9am on Monday had been cancelled.
He said a document sent to him by the Government at around 1am had “very little substance” and only suggested that restrictions due to be lifted for the rest of the country on July 4 should remain in place for Leicester for an extra two weeks.
He said there was “incredible frustration” in getting figures out of the Government “after weeks of asking”, adding that some officials had visited Leicester, “talked to a few people” and had then “cobbled together” a report.
He also told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme of his anger, saying: “It was only last Thursday that we finally got some of the data we need but we’re still not getting all of it and it was only at 1.04am that the recommendations for Leicester arrived in my inbox.
“What they’re suggesting is not a return to lockdown, it seems that what they’re suggesting is that we continue the present level of restriction for a further two weeks beyond July 4.
Labour MP for Leicester East, Claudia Webbe, said she believes a local lockdown is necessary for her constituency due to risk factors for coroanvirus including poverty and “significant levels of African and Asian minority ethnic communities”.
On Sunday, Home Secretary Priti Patel, in interviews with broadcasters, appeared to confirm Leicester would be locked down.
But Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s shadow health secretary and Leicester South MP, said Ms Patel had “got slightly in a muddle” about a possible lockdown.
He said he had spoken to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, adding: “I don’t believe a local lockdown in Leicester is about to be proposed.”
It comes as restrictions are being eased elsewhere in the UK, with parks and shops with outdoor entrances able to reopen in Scotland, and schools in Wales welcoming more pupils.
The Welsh Government said schools will operate with staggered starts and breaks for “check-in, catch-up and prepare” sessions starting on Monday.
READ MORE: Boris Johnson gets tough on children going to school in September