Leicester lockdown: ‘We are being used as scapegoats’

One hundred days after Prime Minister Boris Johnson first announced strict measures to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, Leicester has been placed back under lockdown rules.

Non-essential shops will close from today (30 June) and schools close to most pupils on Thursday (2 July).

Health Secretary Matt Hancock made the announcement in a statement to Parliament on Monday evening after concerns were raised over a spike in coronavirus cases in the city.

Hancock also warned against non-essential travel to and from the city. He said that Leicester has an infection three times higher than the next highest local area, and that hospital admissions are between six and 10 a day – also higher than the average.

The latest figures obtained by the city council show that 3,216 Covid-19 cases have been confirmed in Leicester since the start of the epidemic. Of these, 944 cases were reported in the last two weeks.

The measure will be reviewed on a rolling basis, said Hancock.

Paul Rowlett, the chief executive and founder of the Leicester-based Everythingbranded group of companies, reacted angrily to the news.

He said: “We are being used as a scapegoat for a failed track and trace – they can now say it has done its job.

“The fact is we had more testing than ever – so, guess what: more people are found.

“This is very, very harsh on the businesses affected when they are all prepared to open safely.

“The reality of this announcement is people will just drive to out of town retail parks to go to bars and restaurants.

“This is not about safety – its political.”

City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said: ” “These measures are stricter than we anticipated but we understand the need for firm action. I am determined that we will make this work and to minimise the time these additional measures need to be in place in the city.

“We will of course continue to play our part in keeping people in the city safe and healthy.”