Boris Johnson warned 'people will be very angry' if Leicester lockdown extended

Andy Wells
·Freelance Writer
·3-min read

The local lockdown in Leicester is likely to make residents “very angry indeed” if it extended for a further two weeks, according to the city’s mayor.

Speaking ahead of a government meeting involving health secretary Matt Hancock to decide whether the city's lockdown will continue, mayor Sir Peter Soulsby claimed the local coronavirus outbreak was being dramatically driven down.

Sir Peter claimed data provided to city officials highlighted that only 10% of Leicester had shown higher transmission rates.

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

Social distancing advice on sign in Leicester, as the city�s spike in coronavirus cases has sparked a report that it may be the first UK location to be subjected to a district lockdown.
Leicester faced a local lockdown after a spike in cases. (PA)

Asked what his reaction would be if the government announced a further two-week lockdown, the city's mayor said: "I think if we are told that, there are going to be an awful lot of Leicester people who are very angry indeed.

"It was quite clear that it was a political decision taken without the advice of Public Health England (PHE) to take us into this lockdown in the first place.

"It'll be a political decision to let us out and the sooner that political decision is taken, the better.”

Sir Peter said government data had "finally" told city officials which areas of Leicester were worst affected by coronavirus.

He added: "If only we'd had this information in advance, we'd have been able to do what they're now doing in Blackburn, which is actually working closely with the communities and avoiding having to be locked down.

"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.”

Asked what he hoped Hancock would announce, Sir Peter went on: "I hope he'll recognise that as a result of what we are already doing here in the city, we are dramatically driving down the transmission of the virus.

The rate of new COVID-19 cases in Leicester since the start of June. (PA)
The rate of new COVID-19 cases in Leicester since the start of June. (PA)

"Now that we do know where we need to be focusing our attention, I hope that he 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% 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.”'

Hancock has said that information covering the period since the local measures were introduced will be looked at, followed by a public announcement "as soon as is reasonably possible”.

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

In this photo issued by 10 Downing Street, Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock speaks during a coronavirus media briefing in Downing Street, London, Friday May 15, 2020. (Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street via AP)
Health secretary Matt Hancock said the lockdown in Leicester would only be relaxed when infection rates come down. (AP)

Hancock told ITV's Peston programme on Wednesday evening that “the infection rate has come down in Leicester” before restrictions can be lifted.

The most recent data from PHE shows that the number of new cases of coronavirus per 100,000 population in Leicester has dropped from 127.2 in the seven days to 5 July to 104.4 in the seven days to 12 July.

It was 143.6 in the seven days to 28 June, just before the local lockdown was imposed.

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