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As the news that Leicester has been put into a localised lockdown due to a rise in coronavirus cases, the question of how these lockdowns will even work is being asked by the public and officials alike. Ministers have been discussing how best to approach the Leicester lockdown, with more expected in a slew of other areas if the number of cases does not drop.
A total of 10 percent of all positive cases in the country in the past week have come in the East Midlands city, which means the easing of lockdown across England on Saturday will not take place in Leicester.
It also means liberties afforded to the rest of the country will now be reversed in the city, such as non-essential retail being allowed to open and schools being open.
Pubs, restaurants, cafes, hairdressers and barbers will remain shut come July 4, with people advised against all but essential travel.
The Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News: “We will be bringing forward a legal change very shortly in the next couple of days.”
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“Some of the measures that we’ve unfortunately had to take in Leicester will require a legal underpinning.”
Asked how people would be stopped from travelling outside the city, the health secretary replied: “We’re recommending against all but essential travel both to and from and within Leicester, and as we saw during the peak, the vast majority of people will abide by these rules.
“Of course we will take further action including putting in place laws if that is necessary, but I very much hope it won’t be.”
How will local lockdowns be enforced?
It is still a matter of some conjecture. One thing that seems to be for sure is that it will not literally stop people from entering and leaving the city, so no roadblocks will be in place.
However, the Government has requested no one travel in and out of the city for at least two weeks.
The advice has backtracked from Stay Alert to Stay Home, and working from home unless impossible to do so is now mandatory.
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The Government is largely depending on people using their common sense and understanding the rules must be there for a reason.
To measure the spread of the virus in the area, testing will be ramped up, and the Royal Logistic Corps has been brought in to help the effort across the city.
Police have said they are unsure on exactly how to proceed with enforcing rules and are seeking clarification from the Government.
They still have powers of dispersal granted as part of the Coronavirus Act.
Dave Stokes, Chairman of the Leicestershire Police Federation, said: “If the guidance and messaging from government is confusing for the public then it will be almost impossible for our colleagues to police.”
Speaking to Sky News on Tuesday morning, Leicester Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said he had yet to be told what the boundaries of the lockdown will be.
“As yet, the government hasn’t actually announced what it accepts to be the boundary of this lockdown,” he said.
“Actually policing it is going to be something of a challenge until we know actually what the area is to be policed.”
He added: “Whether it’s a blue line on a map or a radius from the clock tower right at the heart of the city, I think we all need to know. As yet, we don’t.”
An average of 1000 people are still testing positive for coronavirus every day across the UK.
The UK death toll has now surpassed 43,000, the highest in Europe.
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