The mayor of Leicester has rounded on the Government for delaying its decision over lifting the city’s lockdown – saying ‘what a way to run a country’.
Sir Peter Soulsby said ‘we haven’t got a clue what’s going on’ when asked if there was an update on Leicester’s situation – adding that he was ‘really angry’ for people in the city.
New measures appeared to emerge this evening, as local MPs took to Twitter to suggest pubs and hairdressers could reopen – but the mayor was expecting to be informed of a Government decision earlier on Thursday. He said the city was being ‘messed around’ while one MP branded it ‘utterly shambolic’, as no formal or detailed announcement materialised.
Restrictions were originally put in place by Health Secretary Matt Hancock on June 29 after a spike in Covid-19 infections in the city. The measures were then relaxed as clothing retailers were among those allowed to welcome back customers on July 24.
It had been hoped that the city could be given the green light to come out of lockdown today and Leicester’s mayor said he had been informed of the Government’s intentions to discuss the city’s restrictions at 6pm.
Asked if there was an update on the city’s situation, Sir Peter told the PA news agency: ‘We haven’t got a clue what’s going on, we really haven’t. We’ve been messed about all day.
‘They were going to make the announcement much earlier in the day, then they were going to make it around 4pm, then 5pm, and now we understand they’re not even going to discuss it until 6pm.
But this evening, while announcing that households cannot meet inside in parts of northern England from midnight, the Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that those new restrictions ‘apply to the city of Leicester’.
Tonight Leicester South MP Jonathan Ashworth, also the shadow health secretary, tweeted: ‘Not yet seen guidance but as I understand it #LeicesterLockdown:
‘But no household mixing other than bubbles. People cannot stay overnight at another house or meet in private gardens.’
3/4 The spread is largely due to households meeting and not abiding to social distancing. So from midnight tonight, people from different households will not be allowed to meet each other indoors in these areas. pic.twitter.com/Yy7wLbdh9V
Liz Kendall, the MP for Leicester West, tweeted that the handling had been ‘utterly shambolic’, adding: ‘Just been on call with Minister about #LeicesterLockdown.
‘The great news is our pubs, cafes, bars & restaurants can re-open and people can go on holiday with their own household.
‘But leisure centres, gyms & pools still closed, and no meeting up with other households indoors.’
Expressing his concerns about the uncertainty among the people of Leicester before the new announcements, Sir Peter continued: ‘I’m incredibly frustrated on their behalf. I’m particularly frustrated on behalf of the businesses in Leicester because obviously they’ve now had four weeks of extra lockdown.
‘They’ve been promised extra support from the Secretary of State for Health – he’s never delivered on it.
‘We’ve had a bit of a whisper that we may be getting a couple of million extra but frankly that’s not going to go anywhere across a city like Leicester.
‘After lockdown for an extra four weeks, those businesses are struggling and I’m really angry on their behalf.’
Sir Peter has been an outspoken critic of the government over the local lockdown, previously claiming it ‘could have been prevented’ and suggesting it was ‘not justified’ for the entire city – before claiming it should be lifted for 90% of the city two weeks ago.
Blackburn and Oldham have higher infection rates than Leicester and there are fears that the two areas could also be placed on lockdown.
Meanwhile, the Government is expected to announce that arrivals from Luxembourg will join those from Spain in needing to isolate for two weeks.
News – Government slammed for Leicester lockdown handling as confusion reigns