Was it right to have a local lockdown in Leicester?

Here, in the UK, we have been easing lockdown restrictions for weeks now and, for most parts of the country, life is easier, although the coronavirus threat is still very real. However, for the people of Leicester, many restrictions have been reimposed rather than lifted.

This local lockdown – the first of its kind in this country – was imposed nationally without proper local consultation and agreement. We will almost certainly need to have further instances of local measures, so it is important that we learn lessons from Leicester.

The Labour City Mayor, Peter Soulsby, has told local citizens:

“Locking down Leicester was a political decision.  The data didn’t justify it and Public Health England didn’t recommend it. The Tory Home Secretary announced they were ‘locking-down’ Leicester and the Health Secretary backed her. At this point PHE hadn’t even completed their report and, when they did, made very different recommendations to the Government.

It seems the Tories needed a City to make an example of – and picked on us. Now, Tory MP’s, the Tory County leader and the Government have agreed to draw yet another contrived boundary around Leicester.  This one excludes the Tory-voting districts from lock-down – even though there’s no difference in Covid numbers inside and outside that boundary.

The Secretary of State has accused me of turning down his invitation to draw a line around an inner-city lock-down area. I refuse to draw a line that just stigmatises communitiesInstead we need to focus work with our communities, neighbourhoods and families – especially the most deprived areas of the city – to fight the infection. The Government is still not handing over all the testing data we need to focus our work effectively.”

This report from Independent Sage sets out how badly the Tory Government has treated Leicester. It states:

“The lockdown in Leicester constitutes a foreseeable crisis of the Government’s own making. It has come too late and, by being imposed on the locality, rather than being developed and implemented with the locality, it risks creating uncertainty, dissent, and even disorder.

In the case of Leicester, and for future such cases, we advocate a response that is led by local government, supported by agencies such as PHE Health Protection Teams, the NHS and the Police and with additional funding from central government. The imposition of local restrictions should only be considered in the context of such an overall package of support, they should only be a last resort and used as a temporary measure.

Such an approach will maximise both the efficacy of infection control measures and public support for these measures.”


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