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The UK is finally starting to see a return to normal life as more and more coronavirus measures have been relaxed in recent weeks. Pubs, hairdressers, beauty salons and restaurants are all allowed to reopen their doors to the public following more than three months of closure. However, the lockdown was not eased for everyone in Britain. Leicester became the first city to enter a local lockdown after it was revealed the rate of positive cases was ten times higher than the next city. Shops were told to close again, as were schools, until a review was held 14 days after the lockdown was announced.
What is the Health Secretary expected to announce today?
Matt Hancock will give a ‘coronavirus update’ in Parliament at 5pm today.
His announcement comes after it emerged a decision is expected to be taken today, July 16, in regards to the next steps of Leicester’s lockdown.
Mr Hancock will announce a decision today on whether or not the city can join the rest of the country in easing restrictions, or if the lockdown has to go on longer.
In a TV interview on July 15, Mr Hancock said that a meeting with Leicester’s local leadership would take place today.
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The Health Secretary said they will be discussing “whether to make any changes and if so what changes to make, which could be either to the measures or the geography where those measures apply”.
Leicestershire Live reports that a public announcement will be made “as soon as is reasonably possible”.
The Government has been criticised by many for their handling of Leicester’s local lockdown.
The city’s mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, said he has only just received vital data he claims could have prevented the lockdown “ever being necessary”.
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Sir Soulsby told Sky News that he felt “angry and frustrated” at the events and that he did not expect to be informed of the Government’s plans until publicly announced.
The mayor said: “It will be a political decision that will take us out, the same way it was a political decision that brought us into lockdown.
“I’m just very angry and frustrated because we’ve now, well into the lockdown, begun to get some data from the Government that actually shows where the virus is and where it isn’t in the city. We’ve been asking for this for weeks.”
He said the data shows that infections are “in perhaps some 10 percent of neighbourhoods of the city, and the remaining 90 percent is largely free of it [coronavirus].”
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“If we had this before, we could have used it to intervene – as Blackburn and other places are using it to intervene now – with those neighbourhoods to prevent the lockdown ever being necessary”, added Sir Soulsby.
The Labour mayor said 10 percent of Leicester’s neighbourhoods where coronavirus infections were rife had been joined by a “very angry and very frustrated 90 percent”.
There have been claims that clothing factories in Leicester, many of whom supply major online brands like Boohoo, risked spreading the virus after failing to implement adequate hygiene and social distancing measures for their workers.
There have also been allegations that some factories told workers to keep going in despite showing symptoms of coronavirus.
Sir Soulsby said that there was “no evidence whatsoever” to show a high level of coronavirus transmission in clothing factories.
He said: “There is nothing in the data that suggests it is transmitting in places of work.
“There are issues with those particular places of work, but they are quite separate to this and ones that need to be tackled and have needed to be tackled for some four or five years while we’ve been asking the Government to take the issue seriously.”
He said data pointed to higher rates of infections in Leicester within “areas of inner city terraced housing with high densities of population”.
But, Mayor Soulsby revealed that the situation is volatile and can differ from road to road, adding: “In some streets no issues at all, in other streets nearby you’ve got major issues.”
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