Leicester could have avoided coronavirus lockdown, mayor says

Leicester could have avoided coronavirus lockdown, mayor says.

A lockdown in Leicester could have been avoided if local powers had been available sooner, the mayor has said.

A spike in coronavirus cases in the city saw restrictions tightened again on 29 June.

On Friday, Boris Johnson unveiled powers for councils to use targeted lockdowns in response to local spikes.

But Sir Peter Soulsby said these were needed “three or four weeks ago”, and could have saved the city from the government’s “sledgehammer” approach.

The PM said local authorities would be able to close shops, cancel events and shut outdoor public spaces in certain postcodes if cases rose.

Sir Peter SoulsbyImage copyright:PA MEDIA
Image captionSir Peter Soulsby has repeatedly clashed with the government over the lockdown

Sir Peter said he tried to persuade the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) to target the 10% of the city where rates were highest, rather than the whole city.

“We’ve said that all along, and the fact the government has introduced this legislation backs us up,” he said.

“In one sense I’m pleased it shows they’ve listened to us, but they would never have needed to take the sledgehammer to the city if we had these powers three or four weeks ago.

“If they’d just given us these powers sooner we wouldn’t have needed the lockdown.”

The new powers cannot yet be used in Leicester because of the government-enforced lockdown still in place in Leicester, Oadby and Wigston until at least 1 August.

Bars, restaurants and hairdressers are among businesses still closed until then, but non-essential retail restrictions will be reviewed by local councils on 24 July.

Giovanna BouchardImage copyright:GIOVANNA BOUCHARD
Image captionGiovanna Bouchard said some customers at her salon had cried with relief

Some areas on the edge of Leicester, such as Birstall, Thurmaston and Braunstone, saw restrictions lifted on Sautrday.

It meant shops such as Anne El Maria hairdressers in Birstall could reopen.

Owner Giovanna Bouchard said: “We had people crying with relief to be back, so I started crying – which behind a visor is a bit steamy.”


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