Leicester lockdown restrictions eased – but hospitality sector remains closed

The Health Secretary has announced a partial lifting of lockdown measures in Leicester – thanking residents for their hard work to halt the spread of coronavirus.

In a statement to the House of Commons, Mr Hancock said Covid-19 rates in the city "still remain well above the national average and the average for surrounding areas".

But he added: "We're now in a position to relax some but not all of the restrictions that were in place.

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Coronavirus hits Leicester hard
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Coronavirus hits Leicester hard
A police car drives through the centre of Leicester, where localised coronavirus lockdown restrictions have been in place since June 29, with non-essential shops ordered to close and people urged not to travel in or out of the area. Health Secretary Matt Hancock is due to decide whether to make changes to Leicester's lockdown after examining the latest coronavirus data.
Members of the public test themselves for Covid-19 at a testing centre in Spinney Hill Park in Leicester, where localised coronavirus lockdown restrictions have been in place since June 29, with non-essential shops ordered to close and people urged not to travel in or out of the area. Health Secretary Matt Hancock is due to decide whether to make changes to Leicester's lockdown after examining the latest coronavirus data.
Door to door Covid testing is carried out in Knighton, Leicester by Leicester City Council volunteers to help increase testing in the city of Leicester after areas of the city were placed into local lockdown.
Door to door Covid testing is carried out in Knighton, Leicester by Leicester City Council volunteers to help increase testing in the city of Leicester after areas of the city were placed into local lockdown.
A man wearing a protective face mask walks past artwork in Leicester where localised coronavirus lockdown restrictions have been in place since June 29, with non-essential shops ordered to close and people urged not to travel in or out of the area.
A worker for Leicester City Council carries a bag of clinical waste away from a Covid-19 testing station at Spinney Hill Park in Leicester where localised coronavirus lockdown restrictions have been in place since June 29, with non-essential shops ordered to close and people urged not to travel in or out of the area.
Social distancing signs in Leicester, which remains in local lockdown, despite coronavirus lockdown restrictions being eased across the rest of England.
A taped off outdoor play area in Leicester, which remains in local lockdown, despite coronavirus lockdown restrictions being eased across the rest of England.
Members of the public in Leicester City Centre on July 4th. Leicester remains in lockdown after a spike in Coronavirus cases whilst restrictions are lifted in other parts of the country.
A general view of a closed McDonald's in Leicester City Centre on July 4th. Leicester remains in lockdown after a spike in Coronavirus cases whilst restrictions are lifted in other parts of the country.
Members of the public in Leicester City Centre on July 4th. Leicester remains in lockdown after a spike in Coronavirus cases whilst restrictions are lifted in other parts of the country.
Police in Leicester City Centre on July 4th. Leicester remains in lockdown after a spike in Coronavirus cases whilst restrictions are lifted in other parts of the country.
Passengers walk through a very quiet train station in Leicester during lockdown. There were concerns that people from Leicester may try to travel to different parts of the country as lockdown restrictions are lifted while Leicester remains in lockdown
Police officers patrol a very quiet train station in Leicester during lockdown. There were concerns that people from Leicester may try to travel to different parts of the country as lockdown restrictions are lifted while Leicester remains in lockdown
A newly installed hand washing station at Leicester Square, as London prepare to reopen to the public when the lifting of further lockdown restrictions in England comes into effect on Saturday. Picture date: Friday July 3, 2020.
A newly installed hand sanitiser station outside Leicester Square, as London prepare to reopen to the public when the lifting of further lockdown restrictions in England comes into effect on Saturday. Picture date: Friday July 3, 2020.
Police activity in Leicester during Local Lockdown. Police carry out stop checks in Leicester as part of the National Police Chiefs Council for law enforcement, checking driving insurance, seatbelts, driving without a license and also offering advice about travelling in and out of the city during lockdown
Landlady Carole Burton at The Three Crowns in Barrow upon Soar, in northern Leicestershire, one of several pubs outside the lockdown zone that have decided to stay closed this weekend after the introduction of a local lockdown following a spike in coronavirus cases in Leicester.
Police conduct spot checks on passengers at Leicester Railway Station in Leicester, after the introduction of a local lockdown following a spike in coronavirus cases in Leicester.
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"From July 24 we'll be removing the restrictions on schools and early years childcare and taking a more targeted approach to the restrictions on non-essential retail."

Mr Hancock said: "The latest data shows that the seven-day infection rate in Leicester is now 119 cases per 100,000 people and the percentage of people testing positive is now at 4.8%.

HEALTH Coronavirus Leicester
(PA Graphics)

"These are positive indicators, especially in light of the huge increase in testing."

He also compared the figures to when the lockdown was imposed and the seven-day infection rate was 135 and 10% of tests were positive.

Urging people in Leicester not to lose their resolve in following social distancing and other measures to combat the spread of coronavirus, the Health Secretary said restrictions on non-essential travel and only having social gatherings of up to six people would remain in force.

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)

The hospitality sector will also remain under lockdown, pending another review in a fortnight, Mr Hancock said.

Mr Hancock continued: "Some say that the local lockdown is unnecessary.

"I wish this were true, but sadly it remains vital for the health of everyone in Leicester and the rest of the country that these restrictions stay in place.

"We will review them again in a fortnight.

"I hope that this careful easing of restrictions will provide some comfort to people in Leicester and Leicestershire.

"And I'd say this directly to people of Leicester and of Leicestershire: I pay tribute to you all.

"Your perseverance and your hard work has brought real and tangible results and you've shown respect for one another."

Stressing that there was "still a lot to do" in Leicester, Mr Hancock said: "The sooner we get this virus under control, the sooner we can restore life in Leicester and across the country to normal."

The announcement came after Leicester's mayor urged the Government to lift its local lockdown in 90% of the city.

Sir Peter Soulsby said the local coronavirus outbreak was being dramatically driven down, and claimed data provided to city officials showed that only 10% of Leicester had higher transmission rates.

In an interview with BBC Radio Leicester, Sir Peter claimed the Government had got local people into a "messy situation" by its handling of the restrictions.

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