LEICESTER’S lockdown was tonight partially lifted with pubs and restaurants to reopen.
But Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed two households in Leicester are still banned from meeting indoors.
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From August 3, restaurants, cafes, pubs and hairdressers in Leicester city can get back to business.
But leisure centres, gyms and pools will remain closed, the Department of Health announced tonight.
Cinemas and museums will open and religious ceremonies will be able to take place.
Leicester MP Liz Kendall blasted the Government’s handling of the local lockdown as “utterly shambolic”.
She tweeted: “This has been an unbelievably difficult period for our city but peoples hard work & sacrifices have paid off.
“However, the Govt’s handling of this lockdown has been totally shambolic and lessons must be learnt for the future to prevent others going through the same.”
Mr Hancock’s shock measures came as England was hit with 846 new positive cases – the highest number in 32 days – adding to fears the country is facing a second wave of the viru
Leicester MP Jonathan Ashworth tweeted: “Not yet seen guidance but as I understand it #LeicesterLockdown:
“Pubs, restaurants & hairdressers will reopen but not gyms, Leisure centres, swimming pools.
“But no household mixing other than bubbles. People cannot stay overnight at another house or meet in private gardens.”
Meanwhile, Luton will be brought back into line with the rest of the country after its lockdown was eased, the Department of Health announced tonight.
Leicester Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby was told of the Government’s plan for the city by health officials this evening.
Restrictions were originally put in place by Health Secretary Matt Hancock on June 29 after a spike in Covid-19 infections in the city.
The measures were then relaxed as clothing retailers were among those allowed to welcome back customers on July 24.
But bars, restaurants and hairdressers remained closed, with the mayor accusing the Government of taking a “sledgehammer approach”.
He previously claimed that data provided to city officials highlighted that only 10 per cent of Leicester had shown higher transmission rates and added he was “bitterly disappointed” by the announcement.
Speaking tonight, Mr Hancock said he was introducing the clampdown for 4.5million people with a “heavy heart” but was chilled by soaring infection rates in Northern England.
And he said the spread was “largely due to households meeting and not abiding by social distancing rules”.
Members of different households are banned from meeting indoors from midnight.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer branded Downing Street’s decision to break the news on Twitter late on Thursday night as a “new low for the government’s communications during this crisis.
Earlier today Conservative MP Neil O’Brien said: “Sounding positive on #leicesterlockdown – hopefully Oadby and Wigston will soon be free to start getting back to normal.”
The borough of Blackburn with Darwen in Lancashire had a rate of 79.2 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 in the seven days to July 17.
Leicester has a rate of 77.7 per 100,000 people over the same period, according to the latest data from Public Health England (PHE).
The mayor of Leicester has expressed his frustration after the Government repeatedly delayed its decision on whether to lift the city’s lockdown restrictions.
Earlier Sir Peter said: “I’m incredibly frustrated on their behalf.
“I’m particularly frustrated on behalf of the businesses in Leicester because obviously they’ve now had four weeks of extra lockdown.
“They’ve been promised extra support from the Secretary of State for Health – he’s never delivered on it.
“We’ve had a bit of a whisper that we may be getting a couple of million extra but frankly that’s not going to go anywhere across a city like Leicester.
“After lockdown for an extra four weeks, those businesses are struggling and I’m really angry on their behalf.”
In the House of Lords on Wednesday, Leicestershire’s Labour police and crime commissioner, Lord Willy Bach, highlighted a decrease in positive Covid-19 tests, saying: “The seven-day infection rate has fallen dramatically at a time when huge amounts of testing are taking place.
“It’s time to release Leicester from its chains.
“People and businesses who have followed the lockdown to the letter are entitled to their freedom.”