The Health Secretary Matt Hancock has made an announcement regarding the Leicester lockdown this evening. The city of Leicester and surrounding areas have been in a harsh lockdown after a rise in cases in the area last month.
A unique localised lockdown was announced for Leicester on June 29 following a spike in cases.
Leicester accounted for ten percent of all active cases in the UK at the time.
It meant that Leicester could not proceed with the planned reopening of hospitality venues and it meant the closure of non essential shops.
Schools were also ordered to close to all except for the children of key workers.
Is Leicester still in lockdown?
Yes, Leicester is currently still under a harsher lockdown than the rest of the country, but some measures will be relaxed in coming weeks.
Some areas have also been removed from the lockdown – these are neighbouring suburbs outside of the city centre.
From July 24 the Government will ease schools restrictions in the area.
Other restrictions, such as travel and social gatherings, will remain in force.
Hospitality rules for the rest of the country will not yet apply.
The new rules are to stay in place for the next two weeks.
Mr Hancock said it had been a difficult decision to take Leicester into lockdown when the infection rate in the city was 135 positive tests per 100,000 but that had now fallen to 119.
He said: “This still remains above the national average and nearby areas.”
Mr Hancock has been under pressure from residents who live outside the city boundary but within the lockdown zone who have argued the number of coronavirus cases in their areas do not justify their inclusion in it.
Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said earlier today that new data showed only 10 percent of Leicester had seen higher transmission rates and that the whole city should not stay under lockdown.
Mr Hancock announced a new local power to close non-essential shops in Leicester where necessary, but said restrictions on the hospitality sector will continue.
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Mr Hancock thanked the people of Leicester, saying it is their “fortitude” that will get them through the lockdown.
He said: “I pay tribute to you all, your perseverance has bought real tangible results. “
The Health Secretary said the infection rate in Leicester is still higher than the rest of the country.
Areas which have been released from the lockdown include Birstall, Thurmaston and Glenfield.
Mr Hancock said the decision to shrink the Leicester lockdown area was made following a “reasonable recommendation” from the leader of Leicestershire County Council.
He said some areas outside the city included in the original lockdown zone had since shown no cases.
He says that he offered the mayor of Leicester the chance to change his proposed changes to restrictions inside the city itself, but he declined.
Sir Peter criticised the access to data city authorities had been given, saying: “I very much regret the fact that the Government didn’t trust us with this data earlier.
“But I think now we’ve got it, we are the ones well-placed here in the city to make sure that we use it effectively.”
He added: “I hope that [the health secretary] will allow us and trust us at a local level to work with the people of the city – and to recognise that the other 90 percent of the city that has been locked down, along with the area that is of concern, should be allowed to go free with the rest of the country.”