Confusion reigns as Leicester lockdown eased

Pubs and restaurants are set to open in Leicester from Monday after Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced a partial lifting on the extended lockdown in Leicester.

The news follows Hancock’s decision to impose tighter regulations on visiting friends’ or relatives’ houses on a huge swathe of North West England, last night. This rule also applies to Leicester – although family “bubbles” are allowed to meet in bars and eateries – something which caused widespread confusion late yesterday evening.

Meanwhile, the Oadby and Wigston borough, which lies on the outskirts of Leicester, is to move completely out of lockdown.

Leicester’s leisure centres, gyms and pools will remain closed under the new rules.

MP for Leicester West, Liz Kendall, tweeted: “This has been an unbelievably difficult period for our city but peoples hard work and sacrifices have paid off. However the Government’s handling of this lockdown has been totally shambolic and lessons must be learnt for the future to prevent others going through the same.”

Earlier in the day, Leicester city mayor Peter Soulsby said he “hadn’t got a clue what was going on” in relation to the Government’s announcement on the city, which he said had been pushed back later and later into the evening.

An announcement was finally made at around 9.30pm yesterday (July 30) evening.

Meanwhile, the Government has confirmed businesses in Leicester and the surrounding area will receive £3m in additional support.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has written to local MPs saying the funds have been made available for businesses in the areas affected by the localised lockdown that was imposed on 29 June.

The support package has been split into £2.6m for distribution via Leicester City Council and £400,000 for businesses in the area controlled by Oadby and Wigston Borough Council.

Scott Knowles, chief executive of East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire), said: “We have been calling for the Government to provide additional, tailored financial support to businesses in the Leicester area affected by the local lockdown for the past month, so today’s confirmation provides an injection of positivity that has been desperately needed.

“The funding package should offer some short-term respite for those businesses that have been forced to endure a hugely difficult period, remaining closed as they have watched on while the rest of the country reopens.”