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Leicester could leave lockdown TODAY as coronavirus infections fall

Leicester is set to have its lockdown relaxed today just seven weeks after seeing the rate of coronavirus infections fall.

The city in the East Midlands, which became the first in the UK to be put into a local lockdown after witnessing a spike in Covid-19 cases, will see a majority of its restrictions eased by health secretary Matt Hancock.

The move comes as public health officials warned that Birmingham could soon be added to the list of cities being placed on the local lockdown list after seeing cases double.

On June 30, Leicester was hit with the lockdown restrictions after it was revealed that the Covid-19 infection rate was 135 per 100,000.

However following seven-weeks in lockdown cases have now halved to 67 cases per 100,000.

A health source told The Sun: ‘It looks set to happen on Tuesday — the numbers now look fine.’ 

Following the new measures in June, Leicester’s mayor Sir Peter Soulsby was critical of the decision to keep restrictions in force across the Labour-run city of Leicester and Liberal Democrat-controlled Oadby and Wigson.

He said: ‘They have chosen to focus on the city geographical area – effectively the area of the county that votes Labour, and that’s just scandalous.  

‘If they were going to alter the boundary, they should have gone down to the area that they now know where the virus is.

‘They have left two areas in there – one that has a Liberal Democrat council, the other that has a Labour mayor.

‘The fact is they have focused in a way that is clearly party political and that’s not a way to deal with the virus.

‘That’s not a way to deal with the people who will be very angry and very frustrated that they are being punished for the way in which they voted.’   

Under the current lockdown measures in Leicester people from different households are not able to meet in a private home or garden. 

Travel outside of protected area in Leicester to meet people in their home or garden is also prohibited.   

The new move comes as the director of public health for Birmingham City Council revealed that Birmingham was now on a ‘watch list’ following a surge in coronavirus cases.

Speaking to BirminghamLive, Dr Justin Varney said: ‘We could very easily be in a situation like we have seen in Leicester and Greater Manchester… looking at the national pattern, we have now overtaken Sandwell (which was on a list of most concerning locations) – it would not surprise me if Birmingham joins that list.’ 

According to Dr Varney, at the start of August the city had an infection rate of around 12 cases per 100,000 of the population. 

However this number then rose to 24 last week and now stands at ‘around 30’. 

Following the shocking figures Dr Varney said it was important people continued to follow government protocol.

Earlier this month it was revealed that Preston would go into lockdown because cases of Covid-19 have almost tripled in a fortnight.

Health chiefs warned the measures for the Lancashire city – home to 140,000 people – will be kept under review but threatened tougher action if residents didn’t abide by the rules.

All residents are banned from mixing with any other households indoors or in a garden from midnight, in a last-ditch attempt to curb soaring rates of coronavirus.  

It came as Mr Hancock announced the same strict coronavirus-fighting rules would also stay in place in Greater Manchester and other parts of Lancashire and West Yorkshire because cases have yet to decline.   

However last week Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham suggested that coronavirus restrictions could be relaxed in the north ‘in a few days’. 

After viewing the figures, Andy Burnham said he was ‘hopeful’ that restrictions could soon be relaxed because cases are ‘flattening’.

Seventy-two people have tested positive for Covid-19 at one of the UK’s largest supermarket suppliers in Nottinghamshire.

Staff at Bakkavor Desserts in Newark, which supplies Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose and has 25 plants nationwide, were diagnosed with the virus after 701 workers were tested.

The number of cases comes just months after a boss at the dessert factory’s north London plant was filmed telling staff to avoid missing shifts during lockdown. 

Following the positive cases, factory bosses have said that its 1,600 employees will now be tested at a NHS facility on their site while some 33 of those who caught the virus have now returned to work. 

Business director for Bakkavor, Shona Taylor, told Sky News: ‘We understand the importance of the testing and I have been immensely proud of the management team and all the efforts that have been made to ensure we could deliver this for our colleagues. 

‘The programme has been positively received, and colleagues have been supportive and reassured that every effort is being taken to ensure their safety.’ 

The cases come after Sean Madden, head of operations at the fresh food group, was filmed telling stunned workers their futures were in doubt if they stayed at home during lockdown at the company’s north London plant in Elveden. 

The footage showed workers, seated less than the recommended six feet apart, listening to Mr Madden as he said the pandemic was leading to falling orders.

It also recorded Mr Madden saying proper social distancing measures were impossible in the factory. 

In the video he told them: ‘If we need to get rid of 200 people’s jobs next month, I’m going to look at who turned up to work and I’m going to look at who didn’t bother turning up to work

‘The people who didn’t bother turning up to work, you know, they will be the first people that we have to get rid of, unfortunately.’

He added that workers should stay at home if they were unwell or displaying symptoms. 

This month Northampton faced the threat of being hit by a local lockdown after nearly 300 workers at a sandwich factory that supplies M&S tested positive for coronavirus.

The Greencore food facility on the town’s Moulton Park Industrial Estate revealed 292 staff had caught Covid-19 and are self-isolating.

Local health chiefs said 79 people tested positive on the NHS, and a further 213 were spotted through Greencore’s private swabbing scheme.

The firm, thought to be the world’s largest maker of sandwiches, took the decision to proactively test workers as a result of a rise in cases in the town.

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