Leicester lockdown: City ‘must stick together’ after coronavirus surge

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Media captionHealth Secretary Matt Hancock says a number of under 18s have tested positive for coronavirus

Leicester’s mayor has urged people to “stick together” and stay at home after lockdown restrictions were tightened.

Non-essential shops have shut and schools are to be closed to most pupils in response to a surge in coronavirus cases in the city.

Sir Peter Soulsby said he hoped they would be able to work with the government to “get on top of whatever is out there”.

The measures announced by Matt Hancock are the UK’s first local lockdown.

The health secretary said the city had “10% of all positive cases in the country over the past week”.

The tightening of restrictions in Leicester will last for at least two weeks and apply to the city centre and a number of suburbs.

Mr Hancock said the measures would be enforced by police “in some cases”.

The loosening of restrictions in England on Saturday, including the reopening of bars, restaurants and hair salons, will also not be taking place in the city.

Sir Peter said he was glad the health secretary had introduced measures that went beyond just extending the current level of restrictions.

“What we got was more wide-ranging than we’d anticipated and I’m really grateful for that,” he said.

“Because while it is a pain and a nuisance for us in the city to be subject to that level of restriction and to have the clock, as it were, turned back, it is nonetheless something that has some realistic prospect of being effective.”

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the government’s handling had left people in the city “anxious and confused”.

The Leicester South MP said the guidance on essential travel was unclear and there had been “no clarity” on whether businesses in the city would receive financial help.

He urged the government to hold a press conference later to provide more detail.

Downing Street said legislation already existed to allow the government to enforce the local lockdown but it needed to be signed off by the health secretary.

Dave Stokes, chairman of Leicestershire Police Federation, called for the government to provide more detail on what the public can and cannot do during the lockdown.

“As we have seen over recent weeks and months, if the guidance and messaging from government is confusing for the public, then it will be almost impossible for our colleagues to police,” he said.

‘Heartbreaking’ for pupils as schools shut

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Teresa Lander is worried about “a massive gap” in her daughter’s education

Teresa Lander, 51, whose daughter goes to Launde Primary School in Oadby said the local lockdown was “a surprise and a bit upsetting” for parents and pupils.

“It’s worrying how much school they are missing, it’s a massive gap in their learning if they’re not in from March to September,” she said.

“They were having fun being back at school, it’s disappointing for them, but you’ve got to respect it.”

Read more reaction from local parents here.

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