Leicester will endure the country???s first local lockdown, with schools shutting for most children and re-opened shops forced to close again, as restrictions are strengthened and continued for two weeks in a bid to combat a surge in Covid-19 cases.
Non-essential stores will close from Tuesday with schools shut to all but a small group of children from Thursday in a series of measures announced by the health secretary, Matt Hancock, to quell coronavirus infections ??? which swelled by nearly 950 in a fortnight according to Leicester City council.
It means the city of more than 300,000 people will have to wait while the rest of England enjoys new freedoms, including the reopening of pubs and restaurants from 4 July, on what has been labelled ???Super Saturday???. Non-essential shops, which were only allowed to reopen earlier this month as part of lockdown easing, will have to shut again. The new measures in Leicester will be reviewed in a fortnight, Hancock said.
The move came after an alarming rise in infections, with Leicester accounting for around one in 10 of all coronavirus cases in the past week. Hancock met with local leaders in Leicester on Monday afternoon to discuss the plans, followed by Boris Johnson chairing a cross-government Covid-19 operations committee. Leicester???s Labour mayor earlier hit out at the government???s handling of the outbreak in the city, describing Downing Street???s plans as hastily ???cobbled together???.
Addressing the Commons at around 9pm in an unusually late statement ??? which was delayed by several hours ??? Hancock told MPs: ???Given the growing outbreak in Leicester, we cannot recommend that the easing of the national lockdown, set to take place on 4 July, happens in Leicester.
???Having taken clinical advice on the actions necessary, and having discussed them with the local team in Leicester and Leicestershire, we???ve made some difficult ??? but important ??? decisions.