What Covid-19 lockdown measures have been eased in Leicester?

The Health Secretary has announced a partial lifting of lockdown measures in Leicester but some restrictions will remain in place due to the high rates of coronavirus.

But what measures have been relaxed and what restrictions are still in place?

– What was closed and why?

Leicester became the first place in the country to have tight restrictions reimposed on June 30 following a rise in coronavirus infections.

HEALTH Coronavirus
Weekly rate of new Covid-19 cases in England (Infographic PA Graphics)

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the city’s seven-day infection rate was 135 cases per 100,000.

To slow the spread of the virus all non-essential shops were shut while schools closed their doors to most pupils from Thursday July 2.

Coronavirus – Thu Jul 16, 2020
A closed play area in Leicester, where localised coronavirus lockdown restrictions have been in place since June 29 (Joe Giddens/PA)

All but essential travel to, from and within the city was being discouraged, while residents were told to stay at home unless absolutely necessary.

The planned reopening of more businesses including restaurants, pubs and hairdressers in England on July 4 also did not take place in the city.

– What geographical area was covered?

As well as the city of Leicester, which had a population of 329,839 people at the 2011 census, the “surrounding conurbation” was also affected.

Leicestershire County Council published a map of the lockdown area including the majority of the city itself and parts of Leicestershire that touch on the city’s boundaries.

– What has been changed?

Mr Hancock on Thursday said that the latest data showed that the seven-day infection rate in Leicester had fallen to 119 cases per 100,000 people and the Government was now in a position to relax some but not all of the restrictions.

From July 24 the restrictions on schools and early years childcare will be lifted and a more targeted approach to the restrictions on non-essential retail will be taken, he told MPs.

HEALTH Coronavirus Leicester
Rate of new Covid-19 cases in Leicester (Infographic PA Graphics)

Mr Hancock said that the national decision to close non-essential retail will be replaced with a local power to close them where necessary as part of a more targeted approach.

But other restrictions such as those for travel and only having social gatherings of up to six people will remain in force.

And measures introduced across England on July 4, like re-opening the pubs and hospitality sector, will also not yet apply.

– Have the boundaries changed?

The lockdown area has been reduced to only apply to the city of Leicester and the borough of Oadby and Wigston.

– How long will the lockdown continue?

Mr Hancock said that the lockdown measures will be reviewed again in two weeks.

– What are leaders in Leicester saying?

Bitterly disappointed but not surprised. I asked Secretary of State to focus on the 10% where the virus is – not lock down the whole of the city on an artificial political boundary. #LockdownLeicesterpic.twitter.com/MBUOtOFjly

— Leicester City Mayor (@CityMayorLeic) July 16, 2020

Nick Rushton, leader of Leicestershire County Council, said he was pleased the Health Secretary had agreed to change the boundary of the lockdown.

But the city’s Labour mayor Sir Peter Soulsby accused the Government of attempting to penalise the city’s businesses and residents.

Speaking to reporters gathered at Leicester’s City Hall, Sir Peter said it was “scandalous” that the local lockdown was focused on areas that vote Labour and Liberal Democrat.

But Mr Hancock said that he had given the Mayor of Leicester the opportunity to to put forward any changes he might have wanted within the city boundary but he had “declined to do so”.

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