Matt Hancock threatens to use law force locals to stay in Leicester if lockdown fails to drive down coronavirus cases
THE LAW will be changed to enforce a Leicester lockdown and cops will crack down on those who break it, Matt Hancock has warned.
This morning the Health Secretary revealed new laws were coming into force and threatened “further action” if other areas suffer similar spikes in coronavirus cases.
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Appearing on Sky News, he announced “in some cases” this would see the police enforce them.
He said: “We will bring forward a legal change very shortly, in the next couple of days.
“Because some of the measures that we’ve had to take in Leicester will require a legal underpinning.”
Mr Hancock explained non-essential shops would have to close, as would schools.
He continued: “We are recommending against all but essential travel to and from and within Leicester.
“We will take further action including putting in place laws if that’s necessary but I very much hope it won’t be.
“If further action is needed then of course we are willing to take it.”
Rates of infection in the city are now three times that of the town with the next highest rate.
And as cases fail to drop in line with the rest of the country, 10 per cent of tests are currently coming back positive – five times the national rate.
Officials asked for more time to get the disease under control in Leicester after Public Health England identified 2,987 cases — 866 in the past two weeks.
Mr Hancock also defended the Government’s “whack-a-mole” strategy for tackling outbreaks.
He said: “The strategy is to allow for the opening up of the rest of the country, giving people their freedoms back where it is safe to do so.
“But we also need alongside that to take local action where there is a specific flare-up.”
Mr Hancock also said there had been “a number of positive cases in the under-18s” detected through coronavirus testing in Leicester.
“That’s why we took the decision, with a heavy heart it has to be said, to close schools in Leicester and in Leicestershire, within the Leicester conurbation.”
The Health Secretary also confirmed that a football match between Leicester City and Crystal Palace would go ahead this weekend.
There have been outbreaks in food production sites, clothing factories and in large multi-generational households.
About 28 per cent of Leicester’s population is of Indian heritage, and a further 21 per cent are from black or Asian backgrounds.
Language barriers, high levels of diabetes and poverty may have played a part in the new surge.
But the decision to extend lockdown for the city was criticised by the city’s Labour mayor.
Sir Peter Soulsby said: “If the virus is out of control or spreading with the restrictions, I can’t see how extending them for a further two weeks would make any difference.”
Adverts in multiple languages on TV, radio and street signs will encourage people to stay at home.
Officials will review the situation in two weeks and decide to ease, maintain or tighten the controls.
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