Home » Leicester MPs demand answers on local lockdown

Leicester MPs demand answers on local lockdown

To mark 100 days since Leicester went into lockdown, Jon Ashworth and I have released the following statement:

On Wednesday 7 October Leicester has reached the milestone of 100 days in lockdown. The City, its businesses and its people have suffered a great deal during these 100 days.

On 30 June non-essential retail in the City had to close and 100 days later the people of Leicester are still subject to restrictions on meeting in each other’s houses and private gardens.

We all have to play our part in reducing the spread of this virus, but if we are to have our freedoms restricted then the Government has to be clear why this is necessary. Unclear messaging, or the lack of communication, has been a constant thread during these past 100 days. This started with the Health Secretary’s first statement on 29 June when it was initially unclear when the restrictions would be reviewed. If restrictions are imposed then a clear review date is a must.

Despite the Government’s promise to help local businesses that had to close, or could not open as in the rest of England, this help was only limited to those businesses that had not received support under the Grant Support Schemes; there was no extra support for shops that had to close or hospitality venues that could not open. This hit all businesses but particularly businesses in the City Centre that are a vital part of Leicester’s economy such as food and drink businesses and evening and night-time businesses.

Time and again people have been left confused as to what they can and cannot do. It also has been unclear whether it is the law that they cannot do something or just guidance. People from Leicester were told that they could not go on holiday between 30 June to 18 July, but it was not until 4 July when it was confirmed that this was actual law.

As it was the law, and to ensure that the spread of the virus was controlled, it was imperative that the Government issued instructions to tour operators, airlines and insurance companies for people in Leicester due to go on holiday in the UK and abroad. This never came. So, people who had worked hard and saved up for a well-deserved holiday were often left with the decision to go on holiday and commit an offence or lose £1,000s. Once again, the Government made the decision to impose the restrictions but abandoned the people who lived in Leicester.

After the end of the national lockdown, the biggest restrictions placed on people’s freedoms came late in the evening on 30 July when the Government announced that “new rules on social gatherings will be introduced in Northern England to stop the spread of COVID-19. These changes will also apply in Leicester city.” Over two months later these restrictions on people’s social contacts are still in force.

During this time not only have people not been able to meet in each other’s homes and gardens, but they have been prevented from visiting their loved ones in care homes. This has caused immeasurable pain and suffering for the many families with relatives in care homes. The Government must ensure that relatives have regular testing and access to PPE so they can start safely visiting again.

So, after 100 days, and over two months of restrictions on people meeting others:

It is unclear why Leicester is still subject to these restrictions. The infection rate in Leicester is far lower than that in Exeter and Nottingham, neither of which are subject to any restrictions.

It is unclear what has to happen for these restrictions to be lifted in Leicester. When the Health Secretary was asked in early July what the infection rate had to be to come out of the lockdown, he would not give a figure.

It is unclear when the restrictions will be reviewed. In the Government’s latest guidance for Leicester that was updated on 2 October it is not even stated when the next review date is.

We both want this virus to be defeated and for the people of Leicester to be safe, but if we are to be deprived of our freedoms we need to know why this is happening, what is needed for the restrictions to be lifted and when the situation will be reviewed. The Government is failing on all these which is simply not good enough.

Read more in the Leicester Mercury.

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