31 July 2020 08:39
A local lockdown imposed in Leicester at the end of last month was partially relaxed a week ago The government was accused of failing the city of Leicester yesterday as it neared its midnight deadline for a review of local lockdown restrictions. Residents had hoped that the government would announce the end of local lockdown after the city faced a month of extra restrictions. Instead Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said that, as in much of the north from midnight last night, people from different households in Leicester would not be allowed to meet indoors. Before Mr Hancock spoke, Sir Peter Soulsby, the city's Labour mayor, said: "We've been messed about all day. Leicester residents remained in the dark on Thursday night after a decision on whether or not the government would extend the local lockdown was not announced.
The mayor was expected to be informed of the Government's decision earlier on Thursday. Sir Peter Soulsby said on Thursday night: "We haven't got a clue what's going on, we really haven't. The Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed in a tweet on Thursday night that new restrictions preventing two households from meeting indoors that were imposed in parts of North England will continue to apply to the city of Leicester. Image copyright PA Media Image caption Leicester's local lockdown was announced on 29 June Businesses in Leicestershire will get £3m of government funding to help with the financial impact of the local lockdown. An announcement on whether the area's local lockdown will be lifted or extended is expected on Thursday.
"It's time to bring particularly Oadby and Wigston out of lockdown, because the virus numbers have improved an awful lot. "Even though we're testing a lot, the virus numbers are coming right down, so I think it's time to end it." Jonathan Ashworth, Labour MP for Leicester South, said the funding "will go some way to supporting businesses", but added Leicester City Council is "rightly lobbying for more". Amanda Falls, who employs about 30 people at salons in Leicester and Oadby, said the funds would be "a massive help", especially as businesses look towards the end of the furlough scheme. Helen Shakiba said she is considering letting go all staff at her events business in Leicester, and called for the lockdown to be lifted. She said: "I think everybody knows now that businesses are massively suffering." People from different households in parts of West Yorkshire are now banned from meeting each other indoors as Kirklees, Calderdale and Bradford were put on stricter lockdown measures.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, while also welcoming the measures, criticised the Government's handling of communicating the change to the public. In a tweet, he said: "No one would argue with putting in place local action to reduce the transmission of coronavirus. "But announcing measures affecting potentially millions of people late at night on Twitter is a new low for the government's communications during this crisis." All three councils in West Yorkshire said they were awaiting more details and clarity on the announcement. The new measures were also placed on Greater Manchester and parts of Lancashire. Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham welcomed the measures, which he said would be reviewed on a weekly basis. Mr Hancock added: "We're constantly vigilant and we've been looking at the data, and unfortunately we've seen across parts of northern England an increase in the number of cases of coronavirus. "So, today, I held a meeting of the Government's Gold Committee and working with local leaders, including, for instance, Andy Burnham the mayor of Greater Manchester, we've decided that we need to take action across Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire. "So, from midnight we are banning households meeting up indoors." In 13 of the 19 affected local authority areas affected, the rate of Covid-19 in the seven days to July 27 has gone up, with 1,536 cases recorded across all the areas in the space of a week. Leicester is in second place, where the seven-day rate has fallen from 67.8 to 60.2, with 214 new cases. Oldham in Greater Manchester has seen its seven-day rate increase from 23.3 to 54.3, with 128 new cases, while in Pendle, Lancashire the rate went from 27.4 to 42.7, with 39 new cases. In Trafford, Greater Manchester the seven-day rate is up from 15.2 to 41.0, with 97 new cases and in Calderdale, West Yorkshire – which includes the town of Halifax, the rate is up from 20.9 to 33.8, with 71 new cases. The new restrictions apply to the whole of Greater Manchester, which includes the 10 local authority areas of Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan. Parts of West Yorkshire including Bradford, Calderdale (which includes the town of Halifax) and Kirklees (which includes the town of Huddersfield) are also impacted. The same restrictions will also apply to Leicester, which saw the first so-called "local lockdown" imposed on June 29. Reacting to the move on Twitter, Scotland First Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: "The UK government is right to act quickly if they think the situation warrants it. Scott Parker has urged his side to get over the disappointment of losing the second leg of their Championship play-off semi-final against Cardiff City, despite winning on aggregate, with less than a week until their Wembley final against Brentford.