Hairdressers, cinemas, places of worship, cafés, bars and restaurants will be able to open in Leicester from Monday (3 August).
The Government announced late last night (Thursday) that the city’s progress in tackling a spike in Coronavirus cases justified a gradual easing of restrictions, with the local infection rate now less than half what it was in late June.
But with the number of positive results in Leicester still high, with 59 per 100,000 in the seven days to 24 July, some measures must stay in place to prevent the disease from spreading – and to ensure that the infection rate continues to come down.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “What is now planned for Leicester is the approach we should have adopted four weeks ago.
“We needed the data – which we are at least beginning to get – to identify where the infection rates are high in the city.
“We are now able to use a targeted approach to help those households and neighbourhoods affected to contain the virus. This is so much better than a clumsy, city-wide lockdown.”
In the seven days to 24 July, there were 228 cases in Leicester. Last month, in the seven days to 24 June, there were 556 cases.
The Government’s review of Leicester’s lockdown has led to the following changes to restrictions in the city:
- You can meet up to six people from outside your household in parks and open spaces, keeping 2m apart
- You can go on day trips and make non-essential journeys from today (Friday)
- You can go on holiday with people you live with from Monday (3 August)
- You can visit a hairdresser, café, bar, cinema or restaurant from Monday (3 August)
- You can go to a place of worship for collective worship from Monday (3 August)
- You cannot visit family or friends inside their homes or in their gardens
- You cannot stay overnight in another person’s home, unless you’ve formed a bubble with them
- You cannot meet up with anyone from outside your household in a café, bar or restaurant
Director of public health Ivan Browne said: “What we’re seeing in Leicester is the transmission of the virus between households.
“In some cases, this is because individuals are showing no symptoms of the disease and therefore aren’t aware of the risk they pose.
“That’s why restrictions on meeting up with other households indoors, and visiting friends and families in their homes, will have to remain in place for a while longer in Leicester.
“I appreciate this is hard to do, and I want to thank everyone who’s followed the guidance and stayed away from their friends and family’s homes for all these months, but we need to keep doing what we’re doing to stop this virus from being passed on.
“The good news is that the sacrifices we’re all making are paying off, as infection rates are continuing to fall.
“My message remains the same: please don’t visit other people’s homes; work from home if you can; keep social distancing; keep practising good hand hygiene; get a test at the first sign of Coronavirus symptoms and, most importantly, please stay at home and self-isolate for at least 10 days if you test positive for Coronavirus – and make sure others in your household quarantine for 14 days to stop the virus from spreading.
“If we can do this, and bring the infection rate right down, we will be in a much better position as we head towards winter.”
Gyms, swimming pools, museums, libraries and leisure centres will remain closed in Leicester for the time being.
Restrictions on travel in and out of the city, however, have now been lifted so people can make day trips and any non-essential journeys. Visiting other people’s homes, and overnight stays with other households, however, is not permitted.
The Government has said it will review the situation in Leicester by Thursday 13 August.
Scott Knowles, Chief Executive of East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire), said: “Last night’s announcement marks the first glimpse of light at the end of what’s been a very long and dark tunnel for people and businesses in the Leicester area.
“We welcome the fact that Oadby and Wigston has apparently been fully removed from all measures now while, from what we know so far, pubs, cafés, restaurants and hairdressers can open from Monday in Leicester city.
“However, this has been an extremely difficult time for those affected and businesses in these areas still need support to get up and running again.
“Confirmation from the Government yesterday that it will provide the additional, tailored financial support to businesses we had been calling for offers some short-term respite but we still require more details about how it work – including whether this will come in the form of much-needed grants, rather than loans.
“There are some businesses that remain closed, such as gyms and leisure centres, and we need clarity on when restrictions will be eased further.
“It must also be noted how poor the Government’s communications strategy around this issue has been, in particular the decision to include the update to Leicester’s lockdown situation as a footnote in a wider-ranging national announcement. Businesses and communities want to do the right thing to make sure we can keep the virus under control, but their willingness and confidence risks being undermined by confusing and contradictory messages.
“We must get this right in the future so we can all work together to keep on top of the situation and carefully balance economic recovery with public safety.”