UK's first local lockdown sees Leicester stores closing again
Non-essential stores in Leicester will be forced to close again this Tuesday as the city goes back into lockdown to combat a surge of coronavirus cases.
Clothing stores, bookshops and shoe retailers were allowed to welcome back shoppers two weeks ago in line with the Government’s guidance, but on Monday evening health secretary Matt Hancock announced that the city will be the first to endure a local lockdown.
Schools will also have to close from Thursday and pubs, restaurants and hairdressers will not be allowed to reopen from 4 July as in the rest of England.
It comes after the number of Covid-19 cases in Leicester surged by nearly 950 in a fortnight, according to Leicester City council.
Addressing the House of Commons on Monday evening, Matt Hancock said: “Given the growing outbreak in Leicester, we cannot recommend that the easing of the national lockdown, set to take place on 4 July, happens in Leicester.
“Having taken clinical advice on the actions necessary, and having discussed them with the local team in Leicester and Leicestershire, we’ve made some difficult – but important – decisions.
“We’ve decided that from tomorrow [Tuesday], non-essential retail will have to close and, as children have been particularly impacted by this outbreak, schools will also need to close from Thursday, staying open for vulnerable children and children of critical workers as they did throughout.
“Unfortunately, the clinical advice is that the relaxation of shielding measures due on 6 July cannot now take place in Leicester. We recommend to people in Leicester: stay at home as much as you can. And we recommend against all but essential travel to, from and within Leicester.”
The announcement was criticised by some local businesses, saying the extended two-week lockdown period is “just a delay”.
“What we need is concise and precise direction for people to have to wear a mask when you're that close to somebody. I think we're in more danger by delaying two weeks and still keeping the fact that we don't have clients wearing masks. We can open this Saturday if they tell everybody they have to wear a mask - there would be more safety in that than just waiting two weeks and just doing the same thing all over again,” a hairdresser told the PA news agency.
People in Leicester will be asked to continue following lockdown restrictions for at least two more weeks.
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