Fears that Leicester lockdown will go on until mid-August

Residents and businesses in Leicester have expressed concern that the lockdown in the city could be extended to mid-August.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock is due to announce on 18 July whether the UK’s first localised lockdown will continue to remain in place.

However, what is concerning many people and businesses is that no clear targets have been set by the government for lifting Leicester’s lockdown.

Recent figures have shown that the seven-day infection rate in the city has fallen from 135 to 120.5 cases per 100,000 people. However this is significantly higher than the next city on the list, which is Barnsley at 16.3 (Data between 1 July to 7 July).

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In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel has ordered local lockdowns to be placed if the infection rate in an area exceeds 50 per 100,000 people.

However, Matt Hancock has ruled out setting any such target. He said: “We’re not going to use or give a specific figure because both the level and the rate of change matters.”

He added: “If the level were lower but it was going up, that could be a worse situation than a higher level that is under control and falling. So you’ve got to look at both the level and the rate of change.”

This has led many in the city to fear the worst, expecting the lockdown to be extended to mid-August.

Businesses in Leicester were also told this week that they would not receive any extra cash from the government during the local lockdown.

Non-essential businesses were ordered to close on 30 June after a spike in cases in the city.

Many had expected extra help from the government, however a letter from Business Minister Nadhim Zahawi said there were no plans to change or extend any current schemes.

Chris Hobson, from East Midlands Chamber of Commerce, said not giving extra help was a “massive mistake”.

He added: “You have lots of businesses which have picked themselves up again and again and some will not be able to continue to do that.”

“This is going to put Leicester at a long-term disadvantage, there is a danger of seeing a two-tier recovery.”

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