LONDON • Britain has imposed a stringent lockdown on the English city of Leicester following a local flare-up of coronavirus cases, just as Prime Minister Boris Johnson attempts to nudge the United Kingdom back to normality.
Britain has been one of the world’s worst-hit areas, with more than 54,000 suspected deaths, though infections have been waning in recent weeks and Mr Johnson is rolling back nationwide restrictions to revive the economy.
However, in Leicester, which is in the eastern Midlands of England, the seven-day infection rate was 135 cases per 100,000 people, three times higher than the next highest city.
Leicester accounted for 10 per cent of all positive cases in England in the past week, the government said.
“We will be bringing forward a legal change very shortly, in the next couple of days, because some of the measures that we’ve unfortunately had to take in Leicester will require a legal underpinning,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the Sky media group.
Asked if some aspects of the lockdown would be enforced by the police, he said: “Yes, in some cases.”
News of the Leicester lockdown was overshadowing a major speech by Mr Johnson yesterday in Dudley, just 80km away, in which he detailed plans to rebuild the British economy after it was battered by the coronavirus lockdown.
Mr Hancock said the government was still analysing the exact reasons behind the rise of cases in Leicester.
However, Mr Peter Soulsby, the city’s Mayor, said it had been hard to get details from the government and even the exact boundaries of the lockdown.
“It’s obviously going to be quite a challenge enforcing it,” Mr Soulsby told Sky. “Policing it is going to be something of a challenge until we know actually what the area is that will be policed.”
Schools in the city, where the remains of King Richard III of England were found under a car park in 2012, will close again from tomorrow, with Mr Hancock saying there had been an unusually high incidence of infections in children there.
“In the very significant testing that we’ve brought into Leicester… we have seen a number of positive cases in the under-18s and that’s why we took the decision with a heavy heart to close schools in Leicester,” Mr Hancock said.