Leicester mayor rages at Matt Hancock over 11-day lockdown delay ‘why the gap?’

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Leicester will undergo a two-week extension of stricter lockdown measures after the city experienced a spike in coronavirus cases. Mayor of Leicester Sir Peter Soulsby questioned the 11-day delay between Matt Hancock voicing fears of a new outbreak and Monday’s confirmation that shops and schools will be shut again. Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Sir Peter said: “If, as it seems to be the case, the figures suggested that there are issues in the city, I wished they had shared that with us from the start.

“I wish they had taken a more speedy decision rather than leave it 11 days from the Secretary of State’s first announcement to confirming there was going to be action.

“That’s a long gap and a long time for the virus to spread.”

The Mayor of Leicester continued: “The Secretary of State announced that he believed there was an outbreak in Leicester the best part of two weeks ago.

“Since then we’ve been struggling to get information on the data they had and what led them to believe there was this particular problem here, and struggled to keep to the level of testing in Leicester.

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“It came as some relief to have some certainty on what they are going to do. I hope and trust it will be very effective.”

Asked about the decision to extend the lockdown further, Sir Peter added: “I hope that the decision will be made on the basis of data, on the basis of figures, and I hope in the future it will be data and figures shared with us.

“For weeks now we’ve been trying to get information about the level of testing in the city and the result of testing in the city.

“It was only last Thursday that we got the first batch of that data and I hope now they have recognised they need to work with us, they will provide us with the information we need.”

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Leicester reported an infection rate of 135 per 100,000 people, which is three times higher than the next highest local area, he said.

Boris Johnson said a local “whack-a-mole” strategy used to deal with outbreaks in Weston-super-Mare and around GP surgeries in London would be “brought to bear in Leicester as well”.

He said: ”We are concerned about Leicester, we are concerned about any local outbreak.

“I want to stress to people that we are not out of the woods yet.”

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Mr Hancock confirmed all non-essential shops would shut down from Tuesday, with schools also sending pupils back home from Thursday.

The Health Secretary said the relaxation of restrictions scheduled to take place on July 4 across England will not apply to Leicester.

Announcing his decision in the Commons on Monday, Mr Hancock said: “Having taken clinical advice on the actions necessary and discussed them with the local team in Leicester and Leicestershire, we have made some difficult but important decisions.

“We’ve decided that from tomorrow, non-essential retail will have to close and as children have been particularly impacted by this outbreak, schools will also need to close from Thursday, staying open for vulnerable children and children of critical workers as they did throughout.”

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