With the introduction of “ social bubbles” and nonessential shops, pubs, and restaurants reopening, the UK is beginning a journey into a new normal. But some places might not be transforming quite so quickly. Leicester has new and increased cases of COVID-19, and home secretary Priti Patel has suggested the city may be subject to stricter rules than the rest of England. So what is a local lockdown and what will might it look like for areas that are subject to one?
What Is A Local Lockdown?
Local lockdown happens when a specific area starts getting increased cases of coronavirus and may have to adhere to separate rules or have extra support put in place to help stop the spread. It could mean the extension or reintroduction of certain lockdown measures, curbs on travel in and out of the area, and heightened testing and contact tracing within a specified geographical location.
Will It Actually Happen And How Will It Work If It Does?
On Monday June 29, the Mayor of Leicester, Sir Peter Soulsby said he received a report recommending the current lockdown rules stay in place in his area for a further two weeks. This would mean on Saturday, July 4 when some restrictions are lifted, Leicester may not be able to partake. According to BBC, data from June 16 suggested that a quarter of all coronavirus cases in Leicester had occurred in the previous two weeks.
Per Sky News, as well as recommending a delay in lifting lockdown measure the report from Public Health England also advises non-essential shops be closed as well as workplaces in which 5-10% of staff have tested positive for coronavirus in a two-week period. Care homes are also listed as a priority, with the report recommending that all staff are tested "to protect the most vulnerable for the next four weeks."
Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, June 28 home secretary Patel said of the possibility of extending lockdown in Leicester: "With local flare-ups, it is right we have a local solution."
However, Mayor Soulsby expressed scepticism that the measures would be effective in the area, telling Sky News: "They certainly don't suggest that there are particular issues here that need to be dealt with in some dramatic way. That is fine if it is necessary, but they will have to prove it is necessary... or that it would make any difference... and then explain to us how on earth it can be made to happen."
As it stands, mobile testing sites and home testing kits have already been sent to Leicester. The Department of Health told the BBC that four mobile testing sites had been set up in the area.
Other countries have used local lockdowns in their attempts to control the spread of coronavirus. Recently, the county of Anxin — located in Hebei province near Beijing, China — experienced a spike in COVID-19 cases. Per the BBC, officials said Anxin would be "fully enclosed and controlled" with only essential workers going out.
What Lockdown Restrictions Will Be Lifted In England On July 4?
From Saturday, July 4 a new one metre plus rule will be in place instead of the current two metre social distancing rule. A household of up to six people can now visit one other household and stay overnight while maintaining at least one metre of distance at all times. Pubs and restaurants will be re-opening, as long as they are able to operate in a "COVID-secure" way. Essential and non-essential shops are already open with social distancing and improved hygiene measures in practice.