A map showing exactly which parts of Leicester and the surrounding areas are included in the country’s first localised lockdown has finally been released.
As non-essential shops were closed this morning many locals were asking how far the border spread, with the city’s mayor Sir Peter Soulsby saying only this morning he hadn’t been told by the Government.
Rising numbers of cases in the East Midlands city – 10% of all positive cases in the country over the past week – mean the planned easing of restrictions on Saturday will not take place, with people have been advised against all but essential travel.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said Leicester’s seven-day infection rate was 135 cases per 100,000 – three times that of the next highest city.
A map, that featured the Public Health England logo, was being circulated on social media last night but Leicestershire County Council said it was not official.
The official map has just been released by the county council, Leicestershire Live reports.
The areas included are:
In Blaby District:
• Braunstone Town (including Fosse Park)
• Glen Parva
• Leicester Forest East (East of the M1)
• Thorpe Astley
All areas of Oadby and Wigston.
The county council says it is working on a postcode checker for those who live on borders and are unsure.
The huge spike in cases means non-essential shops have closed, and from Thursday schools will return to teaching only children of key workers and vulnerable youngsters.
Pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and other businesses due to open this weekend won’t now be able to.
And shielding for vulnerable people will not be eased in Leicester when it is in the rest of England on Monday, July 6.
Mr Hancock said Leicester’s seven-day infection rate was 135 cases per 100,000 – three times that of the next highest city.
Leicestershire County Council leader Nick Rushton said it made sense to step up restrictions in areas close to the city.
He said: “Clearly coronavirus does not adhere to lines on a map. And although county rates are below the national and regional averages, we can’t be complacent.”
Mr Hancock said the measures would be kept under review and would not stay in place “any longer than is necessary”, adding: “We’ll review if we can release any of the measures in two weeks.”
He told the Commons: “These actions are profoundly in the national interest too because it’s in everyone’s interests that we control the virus as locally as possible.
“Local action like this is an important tool in our armoury to deal with outbreaks while we get the country back on its feet.”
Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth, who represents Leicester South, said: “We were alerted to the situation in Leicester 11 days ago and now we’ve got tonight from the Secretary of State the whack-a-mole strategy.
“Doesn’t he agree that if we’re as a nation to ease the lockdown smoothly then those areas that do see flare-ups will need greater speed in the response, otherwise we risk no moles getting whacked?”
Leicester City Council said there had been 944 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the city in the past two weeks, and that an indoor testing centre would open on Tuesday at the Highfields Community Centre, with further testing sites planned.
Earlier today the city’s mayor said it would be “quite a challenge” to enforce the local lockdown without knowing where it begins and ends.
Sir Peter said: “These measures are stricter than we anticipated but we understand the need for firm action.
“I am determined that we will make this work and to minimise the time these additional measures need to be in place in the city.”
“We were talking with the Chief Constable yesterday about the role he and his officers will have to play in this, because obviously the council doesn’t have the resources to do it.”
And he confirmed there would be no police road blocks in the city, because “clearly that is wholly impractical”.
The boundary area also includes the King Power Stadium, home of Leicester City, who are due to host a Premier League game against Crystal Palace this weekend – a match which could now be moved to a neutral venue away from the area.
Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson said: “I did hear on the news today there was a potential problem in Leicester.
“I am perfectly happy to let the Premier League take care of that. I am certain they will tell us where and when the game should be played.”