// The City of Leicester has been dragged back into lockdown after a spike in cases
// Non-essential shops in the area have been forced to close again just two weeks after they reopened
A local lockdown has been imposed on Leicester after a spike in coronavirus cases in the city, forcing non-essential shops in the area to close just two weeks after reopening.
The situation comes as the rest of England prepares to ease restrictions on places of social gathering such as pubs and restaurants from July 4.
England started to lift lockdown restrictions on non-essential retail on June 15, and the other home nations have since followed suit.
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Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs that non-essential shops in Leicester will close from today and schools will shut to most pupils from Thursday.
He also said the easing of the lockdown planned for the rest of England on July 4 cannot happen in Leicester because of rising cases.
Hancock said Leicester’s seven-day infection rate is 135 cases per 100,000, which is three times higher than next highest city, and the city accounted for around 10 per cent of all positive cases in the country over the past week.
The Health Secretary advised people from Leicester to stay at home as much as they can while the local lockdown measures continue.
“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,” he said.
“Unfortunately, the clinical advice is that the relaxation of shielding measures due on July 6 cannot now take place in Leicester.
“We recommend to people in Leicester, stay at home as much as you can, and we recommend against all but essential travel to, from and within Leicester.
“We’ll monitor closely adhering to social distancing rules and we’ll take further steps if that is what’s necessary.”
The measures are to be kept under review and will not be kept in place “any longer than is necessary”.
“We’ll review if we can release any of the measures in two weeks,” Hancock said.
The City of Leicester is regarded as the most populous municipality in the East Midlands region and its associated urban area is the 13th most populous in the UK.