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Leicester lockdown explained: Travel advice and law changes as shops and schools closed

The drastic spike in coronavirus cases in Leicester has led to the city being subjected to the UK’s first local lockdown – raising concerns over how the restrictions will work.

From today non-essential shops in Leicester must close all over again and schools will shut their doors from Thursday.

As the rest of England prepares to ease restrictions from July 4, the reopening of pubs and hairdressers in the city has been cancelled because of rising cases.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Leicester’s seven-day infection rate is 135 cases per 100,000, which is three times higher than the next highest city.

A dedicated walk-in centre, extra funding and support, and Covid-secure workplaces have been announced by Downing Street in an effort to fight the virus.

Here is a rundown of how the unprecedented local lockdown will work.

For updates on coronavirus, follow our live blog HERE.

Leicester is subject to the UK’s first local lockdown after virus cases spiked there

 

What are the local lockdown measures in Leicester?

Non-essential shops which opened on June 15 must shut from Tuesday onwards in Leicester.

That includes clothes shops, toy shops and clothes shops.

It means many retail firms in Leicester must not open their doors on Tuesday morning – despite the lockdown coming with just hours to spare, after they closed up for the night.

Primary schools which opened to some pupils from June 1 must once again close in Leicester, to all but the most vulnerable or children of key workers, from this Thursday.

A Leicester City Council worker carries rubbish from a coronavirus testing centre at Spinney Park

Pubs, restaurants, hotels, hairdressers and more in the city will not reopen as in the rest of England on July 4.

And shielding for vulnerable people will not be eased in Leicester when it is in the rest of England on July 6.

People in Leicester must once again “stay at home as much as you can” and cease non-essential travel.

So is the law now different in Leicester to the rest of England?

Not yet, but it will be soon.

The Department of Health and Social Care is expected to publish a law enacting the measures on Tuesday.

It is likely to be similar to the laws that enforced lockdown in the rest of England.

Soldiers from the Royal Logistics Corp operate a mobile coronavirus testing site at Evington Leisure Centre in Leicester

It’s not yet confirmed if people will be hit with fines of £100 for breaching the tighter local lockdown.

Will there be roadblocks to enforce it?

Matt Hancock did not mention roadblocks in his statement and No10 indicated they were not the priority.

However, the Health Secretary also warned: “We recommend against all but essential travel to, from and within Leicester.”

If people continue to travel in and out of the city, the government has not explicitly ruled out such checks in future.

How the local lockdown will be policed, including whether roadblocks will be imposed is not yet clear

Where exactly does it apply?

The drastic measures also apply to surrounding areas including Oadby, Birstall and Glenfield.

Leicestershire County Council public health bosses have been charged with drawing up areas to fall under the local lockdown.

A more specific description of which areas are affected is expected to be announced on Tuesday.

How long will the local lockdown last?

It looks like it will last at least two weeks.

The local measures have no fixed end date and will be reviewed for the first time in two weeks’ time.

Could there be more local lockdowns?

Boris Johnson has warned other local lockdowns could be follow

 

Yes, it’s possible.

Boris Johnson promised a “whack-a-mole” approach to local outbreaks and Mr Hancock said there could be “local lockdowns”.

But the government has also been accused of responding too slowly to Leicester, where concerns were raised weeks ago.

Why Leicester?

Matt Hancock revealed 10% of all positive cases in the country over the past week have been in Leicester.

He said the 7 day infection rate in the city is 135 cases per 100k people – three times higher than the next highest city.

And there are six to 10 admissions to hospital a day rather than one a day at other trusts.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Leicester has six to 10 admissions to hospital a day

Sources have told the Mirror meat processing plants and gatherings around takeaways have come under the spotlight as a possible source of the outbreak.

And Labour’s Leicester MP Jon Ashworth pinpointed high poverty and a large BAME population who are at greater risk.

What support will the city get?

The city – which has already had four mobile testing units sent in – will now receive “further testing capability” including a walk-in centre.

There will also be extra funding for Leicester and Leicestershire councils for public information campaigns, including translations in “appropriate languages”.

Support will be made available to those who have to self-isolate and the government will work with specific workplaces that have seen clusters of cases.

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.”

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