17 July 2020 12:33
Image copyright PA Media Image caption Labour mayor Sir Peter Soulsby has accused the health secretary of "playing silly games", and suggested Leicester's continued lockdown was "a political decision" The mayor of Leicester has accused the health secretary of "playing silly games" with changes to the city's local lockdown. On Thursday, Matt Hancock said restrictions would remain, though some "but not all" would ease from 24 July. City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said the decision was "political", and suburbs under the Tory-controlled county council were being released. County council leader Nick Rushton said the move had been "based on evidence". However, he admitted there was some confusion over when those areas would be allowed to come out of lockdown.
What has been announced? The health secretary said cases in Leicester had dropped by 16 per 100,000 people since the extended lockdown was announced. In Leicester, it is understood restrictions on schools and nurseries will be lifted but bars, restaurants and hairdressers will remain closed. "A more targeted approach" to the restrictions on non-essential retail was also announced, with Mr Hancock promising "a new local power to close them when necessary". On Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined these powers, which will take effect from Saturday. He said they would allow authorities to "close specific premises, shut outdoor public spaces and cancel events". Mr Hancock said the decision would be reviewed in two weeks. When asked whether the review would be two weeks from the announcement, or a fortnight after 24 July, Sir Peter said: "I assume it's two weeks on from [Thursday's announcement], but there's no way of knowing that." 'Not sure what I'm allowed to do' Image caption Nursing student Emily Crawford feels the advice could have been clearer People in Leicester have been told to stay at home as much as possible, but some said the announcement had left them unsure of what they could do outside. Nursing student Emily Crawford said: "It could have been clearer. "They said what shops can open but I'm still not really sure what I as an individual am allowed to do or not." Resident Maureen Moore said: "I don't think the left hand knows what the right hand's doing." Image caption Derek Jarvis has been unable to work as a result of the lockdown Leicester College porter Derek Jarvis said the news had been devastating. While the college is closed he is unable to work. The 58-year-old said: "It's ruining my mental health. "A fortnight ago we thought everything was going back to normal and then they dropped it all on us again. I was hoping for better news." Which areas will be released from lockdown? Image copyright Leicestershire County Council Image caption Leicestershire County Council has published a revised map of the lockdown boundary County council leader Nick Rushton said he advised Matt Hancock that many border areas under lockdown could be released "based on evidence". But confusion remains as to when areas such as Glenfield and Birstall will be freed from the restrictions. Asked about suggestions that suburban areas could come out of lockdown by Saturday, Mr Rushton said: "At the moment I'm sticking to 24 July as that's the best information I've been given." The county council areas of Oadby and Wigston will remain under lockdown because "the prevalence of Covid - due to testing - is too high", Mr Rushton said. Latest figures indicate there are 712 cases per 100,000 people in the borough, considerably more than the county's 431 average. How have local politicians reacted? Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Some lockdown measures in Leicester will be partially relaxed, the health secretary announces. Leicester's Labour mayor has reacted angrily to the continued blanket lockdown and urged a more targeted approach. He disputed claims in Mr Hancock's House of Commons speech, which said he had declined to put forward suggested changes within the city boundary. Speaking on BBC Radio Leicester, Sir Peter said: "That is not the way it happened." He said the health secretary had asked him to "draw a line on a map" in the middle of a Skype call, and accused him of playing "silly games". "It was a political decision that decided to take out the Tory voting areas around Leicester, and it will be a political decision ultimately that will release us from this," he said. Image caption Before Matt Hancock's announcement, residents in Glenfield called for their "release" from the local lockdown Conservative MP Nick O'Brien, who represents Oadby and Wigston, has called for the borough's inclusion in lockdown to be reviewed. He claimed the rate of cases was "driven by having the second-highest rate of testing in the country". He also said there are "other parts of the country with a higher rate... which are not locked down". How have businesses reacted? Image copyright PA Media Image caption Leicester city centre remains deserted as a result of the stricter lockdown Jennifer Thomas, from the Federation of Small Businesses said many members had voiced "disappointment" and "confusion".. "I suppose the question now for those non-essential retailers which can open is: 'Should I open if nobody's going to be coming or travelling to me?' "They're just going to be incurring more costs of being open, of paying for their staff, paying for the store to be open, but if nobody's coming that's a really tricky decision for them." Businesses in areas that are expected to come out of lockdown are cautiously optimistic. Hairdresser Sharon Cochran, whose salon will be able to reopen in Enderby, said: "I was delighted, at the same time I was a little apprehensive, it's still a week away. "That's three weeks we've been closed longer than the other salons. "It's just quite overwhelming, it's just I can't wait to get back to work again." Follow BBC East Midlands on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Send your story ideas to [email protected]