British Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced the British city of Leicester will remain locked down because of COVID-19 as towns and cities around the country start to re-open.
Non-essential shops have been ordered to close from Tuesday, schools that have only just reopened will have to close Thursday, and 330,000 citizens have been told by Hancock to remain indoors as much as possible because of the continuing high number of coronavirus cases.
The easing of lockdowns across England has been signaled from July 4 but strict controls in Leicester stay and be reviewed in two weeks, said Hancock.
He told MPs in the House of Commons that controls will only remain as long as is necessary in the Midlands region city.
Hancock also said people in the city and some of its surrounding communities must get tested if they display any symptoms of the virus.
The minister said that across the country the number of positive new cases is now below 1,000 a day and the number of recorded deaths Sunday was just 25.
He said the seven-day infection rate in Leicester is 135 cases per 100,000 people, which is three times higher than the next highest city.
“Leicester accounts for around 10 percent of all positive cases in the country over the past week,” said Hancock.
Following an emergency meeting with local officials in the city, which is just over 160 km north of London, further measures to tackle the outbreak in Leicester were agreed.
“Given the growing outbreak in Leicester, we cannot recommend that the easing of the national lockdown, set to take place on the July 4, happens in Leicester,” Hancock told politicians.
Special laws will be introduced quickly to allow the local lockdown measures, he said.
“We recommend to people in Leicester, stay at home as much as you can and we recommend against all but essential travel to, from and within Leicester,” Hancock said.
He added adherence to social distancing rules will be closely monitored, with further steps taken if that is what’s necessary.