Leicester residents wake up as the city becomes first to be locked down in government's 'whack-a-mole' coronavirus strategy

Leicester residents have spoke of their frustration at the return of lockdown but many claim they are "not surprised at all" after the city appeared to return to "complete normality." 

Restrictions have returned to the East Midlands city after Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed the measures to battle the huge spike in coronavirus cases. 

Non-essential shops have been shut, schools will be closed for most pupils on Thursday (2/7) while pubs, bars and restaurants will no longer reopen this weekend. 

Some business owners have expressed their annoyance at having to face a further financial hit due to the ongoing pandemic.

But residents living in the city told today (Tue) how the city was a "ticking timebomb" after they observed regular breaches of social distancing rules on a "massive scale."    

Jacob Donald, 21, a mechanical engineering student at De Montfort University, said:"If you walk around the city centre you can see people acting as if it's normal times again.  

"People have stopped following the guidelines and there's little social distancing. 

"We've been hearing more parties recently in people's gardens. There's no way they're from the same household unless they're a family of 30.

"On Narborough Road which is lined with takeaways it's so busy in the evenings you can't walk down staying 2m apart."

Samuel Cave, 44, a barber, from Evington, Leicester, added: "Once the non-essential shops reopened, it was like the city had returned to complete normality.

"Everywhere was rammed, people started meeting up with each other again, there were parties in parks. 

"You name it, people were doing it. It made me really angry to see and I think it was going on some time before that as well.  

"It was if the virus had simply gone away and it was a recipe for disaster. 

"This place was a ticking time bomb and I'm not surprised in the slightest we've gone back into lockdown."

Amalia Gane, 20, a speech and language therapy student at De Montfort university, added:"Some people don't understand the guidelines - I think language is a big issue. 

"On Narborough Road the social distancing signs are all in English, but a lot of people there can't read them." 

Full-time mum-of-two Emily Moore, 37, of Leicester, added: "It's hard to pinpoint why we happened but I've certainly observed people flouting social distancing on a massive scale. 

"People have simply just stopped doing it. There are queue systems in place but once people are inside shops, its just a free for all. 

"We are also a multicultural city, and proud of it, but we know those of BAME backgrounds have been impacted more than others.

"It could be down to the language barrier or some cultural differences of some sort. 

"I don't know, but the lack of social distancing has been clear to see whenever you come into the city.

"My daughters are missing out on a big chunk of their education and its a real shame for them as they were looking forward to going back and seeing all of their friends." 

Sushil Ojha, 83, a retired chartered accountant and grandfather-of-one from Evington, said:  "I don't think people understand social distancing round here.  

"People come from behind on the footpaths and rub right past you. 

"Right from the start of the outbreak families have been meeting up in Victoria Park. 

 Their children have been playing together. That is not allowed. 

"The children might not have symptoms but they could be carrying it. 

"I think one of my neighbours has been going to see his brother for weeks before it was allowed. 

"The only way I have seen my son and grandson is from my balcony on the second floor of my retirement home. 

"My grandson shouted up 'can we have a hug' but I said we could only have a 'flying hug' without touching from a good distance. 

"But that is not natural for people here. They are very social. I don't think the takeaways should be open. They are not necessary." 

Elsewhere, workers and business owners have questioned whether extending the lockdown is the right thing to do.

Joseph Hand, who runs Leicester Vintage toy shop, said: "Leicester is known as this hotbed of small businesses that do really well, it's hard work for these places to keep going.

"With this further lockdown, just as we're ready to get going again, the financial thing is a real worry for those going forward.

"For the cafe near me, the hairdressers, either side of my shop, the knock-on effect is huge."

Taxi driver Arnav Gupta, 45, added: "Business has been hard for taxi drivers during lockdown and it was starting to pick up again a little bit. 

"It's going to have a big effect on our livelihoods to extend these measures. 

"We were hoping this weekend would help with the pubs reopening but now we're back to square one."