What measures are being imposed in the Leicester lockdown?

Thomas Hornall and Jess Glass, PA

A regional flare-up of coronavirus cases means Leicester will not emerge from parts of lockdown as swiftly as the rest of England.

As pubs, restaurants and cafes get ready to reopen across the country from Saturday, residents in Leicester have been told to stay at home, with schools and shops to shut this week.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the measures will be reviewed in two weeks, but what are they exactly?

-What is closing down and why?

A spike in infections in Leicester means the city has three times more cases than the city with the next highest total.

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

Leicester City Council said it had seen 944 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the past two weeks.

To arrest the spread of the virus, from Tuesday all non-essential shops will have to shut while schools will close their doors to most pupils from Thursday.

Leicester will not enjoy the reopening of pubs and restaurants from Saturday (Joe Giddens/PA)

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

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

– Why are schools closing?

Mr Hancock said there had been “a number of positive cases in the under-18s” detected through coronavirus testing.

He said that even though children are less likely to get ill from the disease, the decision to shut the city’s schools was made to try to halt further transmissions.

“That’s why we took the decision, with a heavy heart it has to be said, to close schools in Leicester and in Leicestershire, within the Leicester conurbation,” he said.

Schools will stay open for vulnerable youngsters and children of critical workers as they did before and people will be able to travel for childcare.

Some schools had already closed prior to the local lockdown.

– What geographical area is covered?

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

(PA Graphics)

Mr Hancock previously cited the town of Oadby and the villages of Glenfield and Birstall as examples.

On Tuesday morning, 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.

This includes parts of Blaby District and Charnwood in the county.

Previously, Mayor of Leicester Sir Peter Soulsby said policing the lockdown would be “something of a challenge” without knowing what the boundaries were.

– How will it be enforced?

Mr Hancock said the law will be changed in the next “day or two” to close all non-essential shops in Leicester.

The Health Secretary told BBC Breakfast on Tuesday that the Government was not making non-essential travel illegal, but said it would if it had to.

Leicestershire Police said: “This is a dynamic situation and we will adjust accordingly, providing proportionate policing under the relevant legislation to help keep people safe in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.”

The local lockdown is in place in most of the city and some of the surrounding areas. (Jacob King/PA)

– What support is available for the people of Leicester?

Mr Hancock said extra money was being sent to Leicester and Leicestershire councils “to support them to enhance their communications” as well as making support available for people who need to self-isolate.

Through the councils, authorities will also help workplaces with coronavirus clusters to “implement more stringently the Covid-secure guidelines”.

Mr Hancock added: “We are providing funding for local support.

“I just want to reiterate to those who are in Leicester right now… that the furlough scheme is in existence and it works now in the same way that it’s worked across the country.”

Mr Hancock said the Government is “still getting to the bottom of” the reasons why the outbreak in Leicester has occurred.