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Was Leicester’s Covid surge down to more TESTING?

The Government today revealed English local authorities and health bodies only had access to positive coronavirus cases by postcode a week ago – almost four months into lockdown – blaming the need to protect patient privacy.

Barnsley Council, whose infection rate means it is being monitored, said today that it wasn’t given access to geographical information about Covid cases until yesterday while Leicester City Council said their local data was patchy just hours before lockdown was imposed.

Communities Minister Simon Clarke has said they ‘won’t hesitate to act’ where local lockdown restrictions are necessary and insisted that all councils should now have access to postcode-level data.

He said: ‘Last week we started sharing postcode level data with all local authorities. All have the right to access it since the 24th – Barnsley has had the right to do it for a week’.

Asked why it wasn’t available much earlier he said: ‘These aren’t bureaucratic hoops, they are to protect privacy. In some postcodes only one or two people live there so you would be potentially releasing private medical information. We have to be careful’.  

A Public Health England report into the spike in recent rise in coronavirus cases in Leicester has revealed that it could partly be due to a ‘growth in availability of testing’ in the city.

Mr Clarke said: ‘Obviously that’s great that we are testing more people – but the issue is the trend of Leicester and if you look in the east Midlands it is plateauing or dropping when in Leicester it was rising’.

Members of the 7th regiment are running the Levington leisure centre covid-19 testing facility in Leicester as a Public Health England report said that the increase in cases in the city could be due to increased testing generally

Around half of the positive cases were among the Asian and British Asian communities in Leicester

Around half of the positive cases were among the Asian and British Asian communities in Leicester

Public Health England’s investigation also found ‘no explanatory outbreaks in care homes, hospital settings, or industrial processes’ after the rise in infections led to the UK’s first local lockdown. 

The report reveals that about half of all cases were among Asian or British Asian people living in Leicester, and focussed in the east of the city, where BAME communities make up two-thirds of the local population.

It came as official figures published last night showed that coronavirus positive tests in England are down from 10.7 cases per 100,000 population to 6.7 in just a week – a drop of 37.4 per cent based on the latest available figures.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock tightened restrictions across Leicester and nearby suburbs on Monday, ordering non-essential shops to close and urging people not to travel in or out of the area.

The PHE report found an increase in the number of people aged under 19 who had been infected in the East Midlands city, from 5 per cent of all cases in mid-May to 15 per cent in June, and a similar increase in infections among working-age people.

The report said the increase in positive tests is ‘probably linked, in part, to the availability of testing to the general public’. 

It came as the NHS set up another temporary coronavirus testing centre in the north east of Leicester – the epicentre of the city’s Covid-19 outbreak – taking the total to five in the city. 

Experts have said that increased testing could be responsible for the rise in cases – but not entirely responsible. Prof Paul Hunter, Professor in Medicine at UEA in Norwich, said: ‘It is possible – though in my view unlikely – that, as raised in the conclusions, the increase reflects increased uptake of pillar 2 testing’.

The PHE report also revealed: 

  • The infection was spreading primarily in people in their 20s, 30s and 40s and most were not severely ill because they were not tested in hospital;  
  • About a half of cases were was in the Asian or British Asian population – but many of the tests had ‘unknown’ ethnicity; 
  • The large majority of cases were in wards in the North East of the city – but the PHE investigative team have not discovered any events that may have caused this spike in cases.
The statistics reveal that the vast majority of cases are among the working population of 18 to 65 years olf

The statistics reveal that the vast majority of cases are among the working population of 18 to 65 years olf

Most of the test results were pillar 2 positives - meaning that they were taken in the community rather than in hospitals and care homes

Most of the test results were pillar 2 positives – meaning that they were taken in the community rather than in hospitals and care homes

This graph shows that the positive cases were focussed on the east of the city centre with the highest numbers in dark blue

This graph shows that the positive cases were focussed on the east of the city centre with the highest numbers in dark blue

Professor Paul Hunter said: ‘The most likely explanation is that the infection was spreading in people aged 20 to 50 and this generated greater demand for testing. However there is some evidence that the infection may now be spreading into older and younger age groups. As yet there is no apparent impact on hospitalisations or deaths, though it is too early to be certain that these will not increase over the next one to two weeks as the infection increases in older age groups’. 

Britain’s fast fashion chain Boohoo today defended its supply chain practices after a garment workers’ rights group said the online fashion retailer was putting workers at risk of coronavirus infection in its Leicester factories.

Labour Behind the Label, which campaigns for workers’ right, said in a report it received reports of ‘workers being forced to come into work while sick with COVID-19. 

Holiday parks and hotels have banned tourists from Leicester from staying at their accommodation in response to the Government’s lockdown of the area.

Pentewan Sands holiday park, near St Austell, in Cornwall, announced it would no longer permit visitors from the city to protect other customers.

Tracy Jebbett had been due to visit Cornwall for two weeks this month until the local lockdown was imposed and said she had been made to ‘feel like a leper’.

She said: ‘My family and I stuck to the lockdown restrictions in Leicester. Unfortunately there are selfish people that haven’t’.

How a large BAME population, poverty and crowded households may have contributed to Leicester’s spike in cases 

Government officials, local politicians and scientists are divided over whether Leicester is experiencing a real surge in cases or whether better testing is simply finding more of them where it wasn’t before.

It is also not clear whether there are any characteristics of Leicester which make it more likely to see a surge in cases, or if random chance has meant the first ‘second wave’ is happening there. Experts say many of the risk factors in Leicester are the same in all major cities in England.

The mayor of the city, Sir Peter Soulsby, said on BBC Radio 4 this morning that a report sent to him by the Government ‘actually acknowledges that it’s very likely that the increase in number of positives identified is a result of increased testing, and that actually there’s perhaps nothing of any great significance in those results.’

Director of Public Health for the city, Ivan Browne, said: ‘Interestingly it [the surge in cases] is very much around the younger, working age population and predominantly towards the east part of our city. We started to see this level through our testing programme.

‘Young people work in many industries across the city so at this stage what we’re trying to do is gather as much epidemiological information as we can to really try and get underneath and have an understanding. I don’t think at the moment that we are seeing a single source or a single smoking gun on this’.

It was always likely that surges in cases would be seen in cities first. There are more people, raising the risk, and those people are more likely to live in densely populated areas and come into contact with strangers on a regular basis.

Dr Shaun Fitzgerald, from the University of Cambridge, said: ‘There will be differences in the ease with which people can maintain physical distance between densely populated areas and rural environments – so it isn’t surprising to me that we may see localised flare-ups, which in turn may need suppressing through delayed easing or temporary re-introduction of some constraints on some movements and activities.’ 

Leicester also has high levels of deprivation, which affects people’s lives in ways that put them at risk of catching the virus. 

Dr Simon Clarke, a microbiologist at the University of Reading, told MailOnline: ‘In deprived areas people are more likely to have to go to work, less likely to be able to work from home, and more likely to use public transport. They can’t distance themselves from others.’

The Samworth Brothers sandwich factory in the city reported over the weekend that it had diagnosed cases of Covid-19 among its staff.

Food processing factories are a higher transmission risk because cold environments allow the virus to survive for longer on hard surfaces and make people’s airways more susceptible to infection.

Dr Clarke added that the types of work people do may increase their risk.  

‘Blue collar cities are now at higher risk than places like London and Manchester which have more financial services,’ he added. 

Today’s PHE report concluded evidence for the scale of the outbreak was limited, but added the proportion of positives from PCR testing – the national standard for identifying new coronavirus cases – is rising.

‘This is suggestive of a genuine increase in numbers of new infections, not simply an artefact of increasing test rates,’ it said.

The preliminary investigation report – released on Wednesday evening – suggested the infection rate in the city had fallen from 140.2 to 135.7 per 100,000 people in the from the week to June 20 to the seven days prior to June 27.

This is still significantly higher than the overall infection rate in England which fell over the same period from 10.7 to 6.7 per 100,000 – despite the easing of some lockdown restrictions.

Meanwhile, academics and clinicians from the University of Leicester said reimposing lockdown represents a ‘failure of timely intervention’.

In a letter to The Lancet medical journal, the group of academics and clinicians wrote that the spike of regional infections had exposed ‘key problems’ that need to be ‘urgently addressed’.

‘In particular, the opportunity to escalate interventions locally has been stymied by the inadequacy of information sharing,’ the letter said.

But the letter’s signatories report that news of the city’s outbreak came as a surprise to local health organisations, who were only able to access ‘pillar 1’ data at that time.

Pillar 1 data – tests carried out in NHS and PHE laboratories – found that the number of new cases per day was low throughout the first half of June, according to the authors.

The academics and clinicians wrote that information through pillar 2, testing of the wider community, indicated an ongoing spike but was ‘not communicated in a timely manner’ to local authority and health organisations.

The correspondence raises concerns that an area-specific lockdown will ‘target and disproportionately affect ethnic minority communities’, adding that adherence to any proposed measures requires effective community engagement.

‘We should remain mindful that lockdown is a blunt and damaging tool of last resort that represents a failure of timely intervention,’ the letter stated.

‘Our experience brings into sharp focus the shortfalls in the current identification and management of local Covid-19 outbreaks.’

The letter, signed by seven academics and clinicians from the university, calls for a coordinated public health response that is ‘locally led, agile, and responsive to prevent unnecessary morbidity and mortality’.  

Roadblocks could be imposed to enforce the country’s first local lockdown as police said they were considering ‘all options’ in Leicester as cases continued to rise in the city.

The Walkers crisps firm confirmed yesterday that 28 of its workers had tested positive for Covid-19 at its Leicester factory, which employs more than 1,400.

But the manufacturer denied the rise in cases in the city was sparked by the factory outbreak and said some staff who had tested positive had already returned to work.

It comes as video emerged showing hundreds of people attended a community cricket match in a district of Leicester hardest hit by the resurgent coronavirus.

The organised game, in which two local teams competed for a trophy, was watched by large crowds, who did not appear to observe social distancing rules.     

All non-essential shops have been closed in Leicester, where more than 800 cases have been recorded since mid-June. Last week, the area accounted for 10 per cent of all positive coronavirus tests.

Leicestershire Police chief constable Simon Cole has refused to rule out the use of roadblocks to prevent people leaving the locked down area.

In Leicester its city centre (pictured) has been shut down again and schools closed due to a spike in cases

In Leicester its city centre (pictured) has been shut down again and schools closed due to a spike in cases 

Pictured: The lockdown zone in Leicester, which has left some Britons in lockdown while their neighbours are not

Data shows how Leicester's coronavirus outbreak has grown over time. The numbers compiled for England only include pillar one swab tests, which officials say are only given to patients with a medical need or key workers

Data shows how Leicester’s coronavirus outbreak has grown over time. The numbers compiled for England only include pillar one swab tests, which officials say are only given to patients with a medical need or key workers

Roadblocks could be imposed to enforce the country's first local lockdown (Pictured: Veronica Cayless, 77, who lives on the side of Bowhill Grove, Leicester free from lockdown)

Roadblocks could be imposed to enforce the country’s first local lockdown (Pictured: Veronica Cayless, 77, who lives on the side of Bowhill Grove, Leicester free from lockdown)

Spectators gathered at a park in Spinney Hills, Leicester to watch a game of cricket

Spectators gathered at a park in Spinney Hills, Leicester to watch a game of cricket 

People were ignoring the lockdown rules while enjoying a Sunday afternoon game of cricket

People were ignoring the lockdown rules while enjoying a Sunday afternoon game of cricket

Leicestershire Police attended the scene after getting reports from members of the public

Leicestershire Police attended the scene after getting reports from members of the public

He said: ‘We’re thinking about all of our options but we hope that common sense will prevail. Most people have complied here through the previous iterations of the lockdown.’

Problems have arisen where the lockdown border has cut streets in two, separating neighbours who until this week had been under the same restrictions.

Ich bin ein locked-inner! City street split by border 

It’s like Leicester’s answer to the Berlin Wall. 

For while some residents on one street in the city find themselves in lockdown once more – their neighbours down the road are enjoying relative freedom. 

Bowhill Grove has been split in half by the new lockdown boundary in the city, subjecting an unlucky few to greater restrictions, while others can happily pop to the pub around the corner this weekend when measures are eased. 

Pictured: The boundary at Telford Way

Pictured: The boundary at Telford Way

Paula Meadows, 51, who found herself on the wrong side of the border when the second lockdown was introduced on Monday, said: ‘The Government don’t know what they’re doing. Where they’ve drawn the line is just stupid. 

‘It’s playing with numbers. How can it start on one side of the road and not the other? If we’re on lockdown it should be the whole place. How are they going to police it? 

‘If the pub round the corner opens there will be an open pub within walking distance where you can get a pint. What’s stopping people from going?’ 

Neighbour Kay Patel, 42, lives on the same 550-yard-long street – but outside the lockdown boundary.

 She told the BBC: ‘This road is not a clear boundary. We’re out of lockdown, but beyond the bus stop is not. People just walk out of the lockdown area. It needs signs and barriers.’ 

A spokesman for Leicestershire County Council said the boundary had been drawn up very quickly, adding it was ‘an imprecise science’.

Mr Cole said: ‘The city boundary clearly didn’t make any sense at all because of the way that housing has developed over the last century in particular.

‘What people are being asked to do is stay at home… [and] only travel if it’s absolutely essential.’

He added: ‘People need to decide about personal risk – you might really want a pint this Saturday. We will be out there… advising people, we will be speaking to people who feel they need to get out and about – but really we are at a point where this is essential travel only.

‘If you need to travel for work, do it. If you need to travel for medicine or food, do it. But otherwise, let’s stay at home and watch Leicester City on telly.’    

Pub landlords in Nottingham will ask patrons to provide council tax bills to prove they aren’t from Leicester as bars outside the lockdown limits are told to brace for ‘Super Saturday.’

Police have advised landlords across the city, which is 30 miles north of Leicester, to prepare for a rush of customers from the locked down area when premises reopen this weekend.

The lockdown has prompted Leicester University’s vice chancellor Professor Nishan Canagarajah to issue a plea to prospective students not to defer studies until the following autumn. He said students should not ‘rush to make a decision’.

Walkers said: ‘We have seen an increase in the number of confirmed cases, reflecting the situation in the local community.

‘We are in contact with the local health authorities and government bodies and are reassured we have the correct measures in place to protect our employees.’

Meanwhile, concerns of a ‘leper’ effect have emerged after tourist destinations said they would turn away visitors from the area.

Pentewan Sands holiday park near St Austell, Cornwall, said on Facebook it was no longer open to visitors from Leicester.

There have also been concerns in destinations near Leicester, with health officials in Skegness saying they are worried about the prospect of visitors ‘travelling from an area with a higher rate of infection than ours’.  

Video today emerged showing hundreds of people attended a community cricket match in a district of Leicester hardest hit by the localised coronavirus outbreak.        

The game, in which two local teams competed for a trophy, was watched by large crowds, who did not appear to observe social distancing rules.

The match, on Sunday night, was within sight of both a Covid-19 testing centre and the local police station just days before the Government imposed stricter lockdown rules in order to stem the increasing spread of the virus in the East Midlands city.

Neighbours were horrified by the spectacle, which included umpires, scorers and a scoreboard, as well as a large, cheering crowd, but said matches were common every weekend.

Andy Oates, 56, who lives near the park obtained a video and posted it on social media. He said: ‘It’s hard to believe it is possible. There is a police station less than 100 metres away. What is going on?

‘You would think no lockdown exists. It is incredible. Life just carries on as normal. No one gives two hoots. This is why the virus is spreading,’ said the bathroom fitter.

‘I have got children and grandchildren. It really worries me. It is not a nice position to be in. It is disgusting.’

The match took place prior to the latest restrictions to be imposed on Leicester, but the gathering was still in breach of the rules in place at that time.

Government guidelines state people ‘cannot gather outdoors in a group of more than six (unless exclusively with members of your own household or support bubble)’.

However, a number of people spoken to by MailOnline in the area believed that lockdown restrictions had been ‘lifted’, suggesting the Government’s message on social distancing may not be getting through to all members of the community.

A resident who lives near the park, a 30-year-old mother of three, said: ‘It concerns me that this is what is contributing to the spread of the virus. It is like no one has respect for lock down. It looks like they do not care.’

The game was played in an expansive inner-city park in the Spinney Hills area of Leicester. According to figures released by the council, the Spinney Hills district had seen the fourth highest number of infections among city wards up to June 23, the most recent figures available.

A 40-year-old taxi driver, who lives near the park with his wife, 46, said the family had avoided using the open space on their doorstep for four months in order to shield their disabled daughter, who is vulnerable to infection.

‘We were surprised to see so many people,’ he said. ‘They were two rival teams playing each other. It is annual thing, which is normally great, but not at this time.’

The home of Yunus Patel, 57, (pictured) overlooks the park and he watched the match. He said: ‘The virus is a danger. The police station is next to the park. The police see everything but they do not bother.’

And neighbours said games have continued throughout lockdown, usually taking place on weekend mornings, sometimes very early. It has caused residents to wonder whether this behaviour is contributing to the spread of Covid in Leicester.

‘We have seen a game starting at 4.30 in the morning between 30 guys,’ said Yunus Umarji, 37. ‘There was never really a lockdown in Leicester.’

Leicestershire Police said officers did attend the match.

In a statement the force said: ‘We are aware of a video of a cricket match taking place on Spinney Hill Park which has been posted on social media.

‘After receiving a report on Sunday officers attended the scene to move people on.

‘Routine patrols have been increased in the area as a result of community reports.

We will continue to provide proportionate policing under the relevant legislation to help keep people safe. Our approach has always been clear that we will use the four E’s – Engage, Explain, Encourage and Enforce where necessary. 

‘Communities are encouraged to follow the Government’s guidelines.’

Leicestershire Police said anyone can call them on 101 to report possible breaches of the Covid-19 regulations. 

‘Leicester lepers’ are BANNED from holiday parks, campsites and hotels as bosses in nearest seaside resort Skegness ask people from Covid-hit city to stay at home

Concerns of a ‘leper’ effect have emerged today after tourist destinations said they would turn away visitors from Leicester.

Pentewan Sands holiday park near St Austell, Cornwall, said on Facebook it was no longer open to visitors from the East Midlands city.

There have also been concerns in destinations near Leicester, with health officials in Skegness saying they are worried about the prospect of visitors ‘travelling from an area with a higher rate of infection than ours’.

Local child-protection worker, Tracy Jebbet (pictured with her family), revealed her upcoming holiday to Cornwall had just been cancelled

Local child-protection worker, Tracy Jebbet (pictured with her family), revealed her upcoming holiday to Cornwall had just been cancelled

Pentewan Sands holiday park near St Austell, Cornwall, said on Facebook it was no longer open to visitors from the East Midlands city

Pentewan Sands holiday park near St Austell, Cornwall, said on Facebook it was no longer open to visitors from the East Midlands city

While the rest of Britain will see pubs, hotels and campsites reopening this weekend, Leicester has been told to go the other way. Schools must close, along with non-essential shops and people are being told to stay at home. 

Many residents say they now find themselves branded as outcasts.

‘We’re like the Leicester lepers,’ local child-protection worker, Tracy Jebbet, told Radio Leicester as she revealed her upcoming holiday to Cornwall had just been cancelled. 

The management of her St Austell campsite – Pentewan Sands – have announced a ban on all bookings from Leicester and have told her she cannot go. 

Ms Jebbet, from West Knighton, said her had been due to travel on 11 July but now do not know when they will be able to re-book.

The 50-year-old told the BBC: ‘We have not had an email from the park and can’t get hold of them.

‘I understand it’s for the safety of the people camping there and the staff, but we have adhered to the lockdown guidelines 110% and feel we are being penalised,’ she said.

‘We are regulars there and had been looking forward to it, but I felt like a bit of a Leicester leper when I saw the post.’

In a Facebook post, Pentewan Sands holiday park wrote: ‘Following the government announcement last night that Leicester city and some surrounding areas will be returning to stricter lockdown rules, we regret that we will not be able to welcome any guests from these affected areas until the lockdown is lifted.

‘We realise that this will be disappointing news and that these areas may be updated throughout the course of the day.’

 

Pub landlords in Nottingham will demand council tax bills from patrons to prove they’re not from Leicester as bars outside the locked down city’s limits are told by police to brace for carnage on ‘Super Saturday’ 

Pub landlords in Nottingham will ask patrons to provide council tax bills to prove they aren’t from Leicester as bars outside the lockdown limits are told to brace for ‘Super Saturday.’

Police have advised landlords across the city, which is 30 miles north of Leicester, to prepare for a rush of customers from the locked down area when premises reopen this weekend.

Landlords and licensees in Nottingham attended a Zoom meeting this afternoon, where they were briefed on the situation by the police and local authorities.  

Many of the city’s pubs will now ask drinkers to prove they are from Nottingham with council tax or utility bills before they can be served a long-awaited pint.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock extended lockdown measures in the East Midlands city on Monday after a dramatic surge in coronavirus cases, with non-essential shops closed again and schools shut from Thursday. 

Sheila Martin, who lives outside the lockdown zone, had been looking forward to opening her pub, The Black Horse in Blaby, on Saturday until Leicester's lockdown

Sheila Martin, who lives outside the lockdown zone, had been looking forward to opening her pub, The Black Horse in Blaby, on Saturday until Leicester’s lockdown

Pictured: Adam Cropper, one of the owners of the Ned Ludd in Nottingham, which is preparing to reopen on July 4

Pictured: Adam Cropper, one of the owners of the Ned Ludd in Nottingham, which is preparing to reopen on July 4

The nationwide easing of restrictions this Saturday – including the reopening of pubs, hair salons and restaurants – will not extend to the city.  

Venues in Nottingham have already cancelled pub sessions pre-booked by Leicester visitors, and the Castle Rock Brewery will demand proof of address before patrons are served.   

Required identification could include council tax bills, utility bills or student loan letters.

Head of Marketing at Castle Rock, Lewis Townsend, told the Nottingham Post: ‘In-line with government guidelines, we will be taking names and contact details at the door and customers may need to provide ID and postcode information. 

‘We know this may cause disappointment, but we simply must ensure the safety and well-being of our teams and customers.’

Robert Glasby, manager of the Playhouse Bar and Kitchen in Nottingham, said: ‘I understand these are drastic measures, and in some cases will not be fair, but these are precautions we must take to ensure our city and its people are safe,’ 

Those inside a boundary drawn by the Government in Leicestershire and will face extended lockdown rules to limit the spread of the coronavirus after a recent surge of cases in the city.   

Matt Keshavarz, manager of Nottingham's Oz Bar, is confident he will manage to spot pub tourists when he opens his doors for the first time in three months on Saturday

Matt Keshavarz, manager of Nottingham’s Oz Bar, is confident he will manage to spot pub tourists when he opens his doors for the first time in three months on Saturday

Debbie Murray, 55, is desperately disappointed she will not be allowed to open the Star and Garter in Wigston, Leicester

Debbie Murray, 55, is desperately disappointed she will not be allowed to open the Star and Garter in Wigston, Leicester

Leicester has an infection rate of 135 per 100,000 people, which is three times higher than the next highest local area. Hospital admissions are also much higher than the norm at between six and ten per day.  

Under the lockdown, those who live in the area cannot make unnecessary journeys and pubs will remain closed, raising fears a large numbers of residents will travel 30 miles to Nottingham for a drink.  

‘The police told us they are preventing large groups travelling and they have spoken to coach companies,’ said Gavin Morrison of the Magpie Brewery, which runs the Crafty Crow in Nottingham.

‘They told us to put booking systems in place which might help to identify people coming from Leicester.’

But some landlords are not convinced they will be able to weed out drinkers from their East Midlands neighbour.

‘The police have said it is difficult because you can see their postcode on their driving license but you cannot see if they actually live in the lockdown zone,’ said Adam Cropper, one of the owners of the Ned Ludd.

‘The map of the locked down zone does not allow you to zoom in and check the postcode, so for me, it is impossible to police.’

Pictured: Ms Martin has prepared her pub with tape over seats and social distancing signs

Pictured: Ms Martin has prepared her pub with tape over seats and social distancing signs

Data shows how Leicester's coronavirus outbreak has grown over time. The numbers compiled for England only include pillar one swab tests, which officials say are only given to patients with a medical need or key workers

Data shows how Leicester’s coronavirus outbreak has grown over time. The numbers compiled for England only include pillar one swab tests, which officials say are only given to patients with a medical need or key workers

Under the Government’s rules, pubs are expected to take down drinkers’ details so they can be traced in the event of a Covid-19 outbreak linked to a premises.

However, a driving licence may not be shown. Where proof of identification is asked for and given as a passport, there would be no verification of the person’s address, only place of birth.

‘They could give us any name or address,’ added Mr Cropper.

A landlord at another city centre bar, who did not want to be named, was more abrupt. ‘People are not honest,’ he said. ‘Everybody tells lies’.

But Matt Keshavarz, manager of Nottingham’s Oz Bar, is confident he will manage to spot pub tourists when he opens his doors for the first time in three months on Saturday.

‘People from Leicester will not get in,’ he said. ‘It is nothing against Leicester people, it is just keeping our customers and staff safe.

The Oz Bar is fully booked on Saturday and is expecting 170 customers, compared to the usual crowd of 520.

A person walks past a closed pub following the coronavirus disease outbreak in Leicester

A person walks past a closed pub following the coronavirus disease outbreak in Leicester

Health Secretary Matt Hancock extended lockdown measures in the East Midlands city (pictured) on Monday after a dramatic surge in coronavirus cases

Health Secretary Matt Hancock extended lockdown measures in the East Midlands city (pictured) on Monday after a dramatic surge in coronavirus cases

The pub has asked for postcodes and will request to see driving licenses on the door when booked guests arrive, however, Mr Keshavarz accepts some people may use a passport.

‘There are more cases of Coronavirus in Leicester and they have decided to stay in lockdown. My message would be to follow the guidelines. Stay at home and stay safe. 

‘There is a high risk of people coming from Leicester but the police have said they will try to police it.’ 

Sheila Martin had been looking forward to opening her pub, The Black Horse in Blaby, on Saturday until Leicester’s lockdown.

Being 50 metres outside of the exclusion zone the popular landlady is pressing ahead with her plans, but now she feels nervous and fears she will be overwhelmed by residents from lockdown areas, who are desperate for a pint.

‘I am feeling very apprehensive,’ said Sheila, 56, who has run the community pub for 18 years.

As she prepared to cover her premises, which date from 1959, with black and yellow hazard tape to mark out social distancing, Ms Martin told MailOnline: ‘No one else is opening in Blaby and I think there will be a mad rush from everywhere else. That’s why I am having regulars only. I will be on the door.’

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

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

Hospital admissions are also much higher than the norm at between six and ten per day

Hospital admissions are also much higher than the norm at between six and ten per day

Pedestrians wear masks as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus in North Evington, Leicester

Pedestrians wear masks as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus in North Evington, Leicester

On a busy Saturday night Ms Martin might serve 200 customers, but this weekend she is limited to only 60, who will be accommodated in the back bar to allow a one-way system to operate, and in the car park, which has been fenced off to allow tables to be put in.

Ms Martin is prepared to ask for driving licenses to check postcodes, but most of the lucky ones who will gain admission she simply knows by sight.

‘Other pubs near here are staying closed until the city reopens,’ explained Ms Martin, whose regulars have demanded she finally open the doors after a thirsty three-month wait.

‘Judging by my Facebook people are ready for a drink,’ said Sheila, who has lost £120,000 in takings at the Trust Inns pub during lockdown.

‘We have said we will open at 12 on Saturday and most people have responded by saying they will be camping outside.’

Meanwhile, a few miles down the road in Wigston another landlady, Debbie Murray, 55, is desperately disappointed she will not be allowed to open the Star and Garter.

The traditional Everards pub, which was once an old coaching house and dates from 1879, is just a few metres inside the lockdown area and so must stay closed.

‘I put so much into getting ready, I was getting excited and just finished everything and then to be told there was another two-week lockdown, well, I just burst into tears,’ said Ms Murray, who runs the pub with her husband, Darren, 57.

The multi-room public house can accommodate around 200 people when full, but capacity will be halved when the Star and Garter finally opens.

A lot of preparation was completed before the new lockdown announcement, with Perspex screens on the bar and new furniture for outside, totalling thousands of pounds.

‘The brewery has been fantastic,’ said Ms Murray, who estimates takings of £180,000 have been lost during the three-month closure. ‘They have been really supportive.’

Police say they WILL stop drivers leaving Leicester and flouters will face £100 fines after reveller tries to hire a coach to take friends from COVID-hit city for a night out in Nottingham when pubs open on Saturday

Police have pledged to stop and fine drivers trying to flee Leicester for drinking or shopping after the city was put under a fresh lockdown following a spike in Covid-19 cases in the city. 

Officers will carry out spot checks on vehicles leaving locked-down Leicester and could turn them around if their journey is not essential, it was revealed today, as confusion reigned because some areas in the city limits are in lockdown while neighbours are not.

Leicestershire Police is also threatening £100 fines amid growing concerns that residents may flee for the county’s open pubs, hair salons or other attractions while patrols will also break up mass gatherings in the city after they were partially blamed for a spike in coronavirus cases in June.

It came as the NHS set up another temporary coronavirus testing centre in the north east of Leicester – the epicentre of the city’s Covid-19 outbreak – taking the total to five in the city.

Yesterday Leicester City fan Colin Browning tweeted a callout for people to join him on a coach to Nottingham for a night in the pub for £15 including space on a 48-seater bus including ‘free hand sanitiser, masks and gloves’. It sold out on Tuesday but he reduced it to a minibus last night after admitting he had ‘gone over the top’.

It came after people booked minibuses and coaches to ferry them up to nearby Nottingham and Derby to drink on ‘Super Saturday’ this weekend – when the rest of England emerges from lockdown on July 4.     Nottinghamshire’s chief constable Craig Guildford says his officers are also ready to act if Leicester residents turn up for ‘shopping or a night out’ in Nottingham while British Transport Police will be checking those using trains between the two cities.   

Pictured: The lockdown zone in Leicester, which has left some Britons in lockdown while their neighbours are not

Leicester City fan Colin Browning tweeted a callout for people to join him on a coach to Nottingham for a night in the pub for £15 including space on a 48-seater bus including 'free hand sanitiser, masks and gloves' - but cancelled the plan  yesterday

Leicester City fan Colin Browning tweeted a callout for people to join him on a coach to Nottingham for a night in the pub for £15 including space on a 48-seater bus including ‘free hand sanitiser, masks and gloves’ – but cancelled the plan  yesterday

Patrols could also be increased in public spaces to enforce the guidelines but road blocks are considered over the top, the Times reported, as police in Leicestershire criticised the ‘drip-feeding’ of information from Whitehall to agencies on the ground and Matt Hancock insisted that the closure of shops would be enforced by law but there would be no travel ban.

Covid cases at Walkers 

Walkers has today confirmed 28 positive cases of Covid-19 at its crisp factory in Leicester.

The firm, which employs 1,400 people across the site in the Beaumont Leys area of the city, said it had seen a ‘steady increase’ in the number of confirmed cases during June.

Walkers claimed its track and trace procedure indicated the transmission of the virus was ‘not in our factory’.

 The company claims the rise ‘coincides with the roll-out and uptake of testing’ in Leicester.

Willy Bach, police and crime commissioner for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, criticised the lockdown process. ‘We were not even provided with a map of the [lockdown] area until well after the announcement. I have a great deal of sympathy with the agencies charged with delivery. They needed clarity from the start, and I am astonished that it is being drip-fed as the day progresses,’ he said.

Officers will stop cars, minibuses and coaches and break up large groups after it emerged that a large block party was held in Leicester last weekend.  

Oxford University’s Professor Peter Horby, who chairs the new and emerging respiratory virus threats advisory group (Nervtag), has said the public should brace themselves for other local coronavirus restrictions to return later in the year.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Unfortunately I think we should. We’ve seen the epidemic is focal, which is often the case, it’s not the same in all places. And we saw that London unfortunately led the way in the UK and now Leicester is unfortunately leading the way and we can expect more of that, so I think there will have to be local responses to local outbreaks.’

Dr Duncan Robertson, a data expert at Loughborough University’s School of Business and Economics, told MailOnline that Public Health England statistics show a  ‘cluster of outbreaks around Manchester’ while Doncaster has also seen a surge in cases and there are ongoing outbreaks in Kent, Wales and Scotland that are causing concern.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed lockdown measures will be extended in the East Midlands city for at least two weeks after a dramatic surge in coronavirus cases, with non-essential shops closed again and schools shut from Thursday.  It will not be reviewed again until July 18, according to Government documents.

Leicester City Council and Public Health England issued a map on Tuesday detailing exactly which areas in Leicestershire will be subject to the lockdown, with the boundary extending to Birstall to the north of the city and Wigston to the south. 

Police check cars in York on March 26. Officers will perform similar checks to ensure locals are obeying the new locdkown in Leicester

Police check cars in York on March 26. Officers will perform similar checks to ensure locals are obeying the new locdkown in Leicester

Pictured: Where the border cuts across Leicester on Bowhill Grove, after Matt Hancock announced a local extension of lockdown

Pictured: Where the border cuts across Leicester on Bowhill Grove, after Matt Hancock announced a local extension of lockdown

But those living on a street in Scraptoft last night said they were ‘totally confused’ by the Government’s lockdown boundary, as it leaves half the road under strict lockdown and others free to enjoy the nationwide easing of restrictions on July 4.  

Kathleen McDonagh, 77, who lives a few metres inside Leicester’s lockdown border with her daughter Mary, 56, faces a wait of at least two weeks before she can enjoy relaxed Covid-19 measures and be able to head to the pub, hair salons and restaurants.

The pair will also have to wait before they can visit with their children and grandchildren, enjoy a cup of tea at The White Horse, or attend mass at the nearby St Joseph’s Catholic Church.

Meanwhile, Veronica Cayless, 77, who lives in a house opposite the McDonaghs, is excited to restart her life alongside most Britons on what has been dubbed ‘Super Saturday’.   

Her home falls outside the extended lockdown boundary, which was announced on Monday amid a spike in Covid-19 cases in Leicester. The city accounted for around 10 per cent of all positive cases in Britain over the past week.  

Leicester has an infection rate of 135 per 100,000 people, which is three times higher than the next highest local area. Hospital admissions are also much higher than the norm at between six and ten per day.

The families both live on a quiet suburban street made up of semi-detached, four-bedroom homes with neatly manicured lawns. 

But the imposition of a local lockdown boundary means some residents will have to remain in isolation while others will, from Saturday, enjoy the same liberation as the rest of the country. 

Less than a mile away from Mrs McDonagh and Ms Cayless, neighbours who fall both inside and outside the lockdown zone are separated by a mere wooden picket fence. 

As Leicester becomes the first area in Britain to be subject to local lockdown measures: 

  • All non-essential shops will close, with law to be rushed through to underpin the new restrictions, after 800-plus cases were recorded in Leicester since mid-June and the area accounted for around 10 per cent of all positive tests in the UK over the past week;
  • Schools will close from Thursday and will not reopen until next term, amid fears an unusually high incidence in children is driving the spread. They will stay open for vulnerable children and offspring of key workers;
  • People are advised to avoid all but essential travel to, from, and within Leicester and should ‘stay at home as much as you can’, but there is no formal travel ban at this stage;
  • Easing of lockdown in England on Saturday will not apply in Leicester, meaning pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and cinemas will stay shut;
  • Shielding measures will not be loosened in the city on 6 July, unlike the rest of England where the most clinically-vulnerable will be able to spend more time outside.

Those on the divided street in Scraptoft last night told of their confusion at the invisible barrier – but insisted that following lockdown rules is the right thing to do.

Mrs McDonagh, who lives a few metres inside the border, said she had been looking forward to seeing her grandson who she has not been able to visit since lockdown measures were imposed in March.   

 ‘That is what I was looking forward to,’ she said. ‘I used to see him every day. I really miss him. It is awful. I miss not going to the shops. I like to meet my sister in town once a month and have a cup of tea, but I have not seen her since March, either.

‘It’s my birthday in August and my son was planning to invite us to a party but I don’t think that will happen now.’ 

Kathleen McDonagh, 77, who lives inside the border in Scraptoft with her daughter Mary (seen together), 56, faces a wait of at least two weeks before she can enjoy relaxed lockdown measures and be able to head to the pub, hair salons, restaurants alongside the rest of Britain

Kathleen McDonagh, 77, who lives inside the border in Scraptoft with her daughter Mary (seen together), 56, faces a wait of at least two weeks before she can enjoy relaxed lockdown measures and be able to head to the pub, hair salons, restaurants alongside the rest of Britain

Lisa Jones, 52, Shelly Evans, 56, and Helen Bale, 49, remain in lockdown in Leicester while their neighbours David Blohm, 74, and Emil Gryglewski do not, as the new border runs through their street

Lisa Jones, 52, Shelly Evans, 56, and Helen Bale, 49, remain in lockdown in Leicester while their neighbours David Blohm, 74, and Emil Gryglewski do not, as the new border runs through their street

The Leicester lockdown boundary cuts across Telford Way and Kinross Avenue, with neighbours separated by a wooden fence now in entirely different situations

The Leicester lockdown boundary cuts across Telford Way and Kinross Avenue, with neighbours separated by a wooden fence now in entirely different situations

This evening, the border street of Telford Way / Kinross Avenue was busy with children and neighbours in front of their homes on a summer evening doing jobs, chatting and riding bikes

This evening, the border street of Telford Way / Kinross Avenue was busy with children and neighbours in front of their homes on a summer evening doing jobs, chatting and riding bikes

R rates disappears from Leicester lockdown discussion 

A discussion of ‘R’ rates disappeared amid the spike of coronavirus in Leicester – as experts claim the measurement becomes less reliable when cases drop.    

The ‘R’ – or reproductive – rate had been used by ministers to explain whether the coronavirus pandemic was growing or in retreat in Britain throughout the crisis.

The number, which is currently between 0.7 and 0.9 in the UK, depicts the average number of secondary infections produced by someone with Covid-19.

An ‘R’ rate less than one shows a falling pandemic, whereas infections are growing if it is above one.  

The ‘R’ value was barely mentioned in briefings amid the spike in coronavirus cases in Leicester, the Daily Telegraph reported, with Matt Hancock instead sharing a seven-day infection rate.

He also mentioned daily hospital admissions in the area –  which are currently between six and ten.

This apparent shift away from the ‘R’ rate could illustrate growing discomfort with the measurement among ministers.

In June, a senior government scientist issued a ‘word of caution’ to the media about the term, especially when it was applied regionally.  

He said the ‘R’ rate became less reliable as new case numbers fell. 

Shortly afterwards, ‘growth rates’ were published by the Government alongside these measures.

For daughter Mary, a freelance print designer who works from home, she is also missing family – and the chance to go to church.

‘We have not been to mass since March,’ she said. ‘We miss it. We watch televised masses, but it’s not the same. We cannot receive communion.’

However, the pair are convinced that following lockdown rules is the right thing to do. 

Leicester has recorded 944 positive Covid-19 cases over two weeks – almost a third of the city’s 3,216 total since the pandemic began. 

‘We are doing everything we can to follow the rules to help the community,’ said Mary, who revealed they have not even seen family members on the opposite side of the street, except on Zoom.

‘We will never get out of lockdown if people don’t just knuckle under and do it for everyone else.’

Meanwhile Ms Cayless, who lives directly opposite the McDonaghs, said she is looking forward to visiting one of her sons, who lives in St Albans, for the first time since Christmas.

‘It is totally confusing for everyone. But I am lucky. I am looking forward to going for a walk with my friend, which I would not be able to do over there,’ she said.

Ms Cayless added she isn’t sure how the extended lockdown will be enforced, as ‘how can anyone test where someone is from if they have crossed the boundary.’   

Less than a mile away, residents inside and outside of the lockdown zone near Thurncourt are separated only by a wooden picket fence. 

On one side, Helen Bale, 49, said she is disappointed she will have to wait even longer to visit friends and family outside Leicester, because those inside the restricted zone are now limited to just essential travel.

‘We were due to visit my in-laws in Mablethorpe in Lincolnshire but now we can’t go,’ said the care worker. ‘If I was stopped by police they would say you can’t do it.’ 

The confusion about what residents can and cannot do is widespread and extends to whether people can work and where they can shop. 

Mrs Bale lives inside the lockdown zone, but works outside of it. 

Matt Hancock announced non-essential shops will shut from today and schools will close from Thursday in Leicester

Matt Hancock announced non-essential shops will shut from today and schools will close from Thursday in Leicester

The streets of Leicester were almost empty this morning as residents responded to the warnings about a coronavirus surge

The streets of Leicester were almost empty this morning as residents responded to the warnings about a coronavirus surge 

The market remained boarded up in Leicester today, with lockdown set to be tightened up again to combat the spread

The market remained boarded up in Leicester today, with lockdown set to be tightened up again to combat the spread

Gallowtree Gate in Leicester today as locals brace themselves for the new lockdown after a coronavirus surge

Gallowtree Gate in Leicester today as locals brace themselves for the new lockdown after a coronavirus surge

A resident walks along a street in the North Evington area of Leicester today amid the renewed lockdown measures

A resident walks along a street in the North Evington area of Leicester today amid the renewed lockdown measures

How a large BAME population, poverty and crowded households may have contributed to Leicester’s spike in cases 

Government officials, local politicians and scientists are divided over whether Leicester is experiencing a real surge in cases or whether better testing is simply finding more of them where it wasn’t before.

It is also not clear whether there are any characteristics of Leicester which make it more likely to see a surge in cases, or if random chance has meant the first ‘second wave’ is happening there. Experts say many of the risk factors in Leicester are the same in all major cities in England.

The mayor of the city, Sir Peter Soulsby, said on BBC Radio 4 this morning that a report sent to him by the Government ‘actually acknowledges that it’s very likely that the increase in number of positives identified is a result of increased testing, and that actually there’s perhaps nothing of any great significance in those results.’

Director of Public Health for the city, Ivan Browne, said: ‘Interestingly it [the surge in cases] is very much around the younger, working age population and predominantly towards the east part of our city. We started to see this level through our testing programme.

‘Young people work in many industries across the city so at this stage what we’re trying to do is gather as much epidemiological information as we can to really try and get underneath and have an understanding. I don’t think at the moment that we are seeing a single source or a single smoking gun on this’.

It was always likely that surges in cases would be seen in cities first. There are more people, raising the risk, and those people are more likely to live in densely populated areas and come into contact with strangers on a regular basis.

Dr Shaun Fitzgerald, from the University of Cambridge, said: ‘There will be differences in the ease with which people can maintain physical distance between densely populated areas and rural environments – so it isn’t surprising to me that we may see localised flare-ups, which in turn may need suppressing through delayed easing or temporary re-introduction of some constraints on some movements and activities.’ 

Leicester also has high levels of deprivation, which affects people’s lives in ways that put them at risk of catching the virus. 

Dr Simon Clarke, a microbiologist at the University of Reading, told MailOnline: ‘In deprived areas people are more likely to have to go to work, less likely to be able to work from home, and more likely to use public transport. They can’t distance themselves from others.’

The Samworth Brothers sandwich factory in the city reported over the weekend that it had diagnosed cases of Covid-19 among its staff.

Food processing factories are a higher transmission risk because cold environments allow the virus to survive for longer on hard surfaces and make people’s airways more susceptible to infection.

Dr Clarke added that the types of work people do may increase their risk.  

‘Blue collar cities are now at higher risk than places like London and Manchester which have more financial services,’ he added. 

‘My boss called me and said how does it fall for you? If I don’t go in, I don’t get paid. I just don’t see how it is going to work,’ she said.

Neighbour Lisa Jones, 51, is also in the Covid-19 hotspot area and remains in lockdown.

‘I am confused,’ said the dance school receptionist. ‘Am I allowed on the other side of that fence? Am I allowed to go to the local shops for essentials because the shops I use are just outside the lockdown zone?’

Mrs Jones’ daughter had a baby just before the initial lockdown period was introduced and visits have only just restarted. Now, they will have to end.

‘I have only seen my grandson three or four times. And now I cannot see him. It’s devastating,’ she said.

On Tuesday, the border street was busy with children and neighbours in front of their homes doing jobs, chatting and riding bikes. 

However, at a point in the road a line of cobbles crosses the tarmac, which is the route of an old railway line that marks the boundary between the City of Leicester and the Market Harborough District, which is outside the lockdown area. 

The first house in the ‘free world’ of Market Harborough District belongs to David Blohm, 61, a retired builder.

‘I don’t get it,’ he told MailOnline. ‘Before lockdown my wife and I would go for a meal once a fortnight, I am looking forward to doing that again. But I am really worried about Covid. I think they released the lockdown too early.’

Meanwhile, Emil Gryglewski, 33, is glad to be on the right side of the lockdown line but is sympathetic to his neighbours who are not.

‘I understand it is a difficult situation,’ he said. ‘I am not sure if it’s a good way to stop the virus, but if you are going to do it there needs to be a line somewhere. Unfortunately, this is the line.’

‘I am on the good side, they are on the dark side,’ joked the father. ‘I feel sorry for them. I know it’s not fair.’

People elsewhere in the city appeared to agree with the lockdown on Tuesday, but were angry it had been required. 

Accountant Vina Chaudhry, 34, told The Sun: ‘I’m embarrassed to be born and to live in Leicester and I hope the Government makes an example of our city. How can some people be so stupid and breach social distancing rules that are put in place to help keep us safe. The city has been packed and we are now being punished for those idiots not abiding by the rules.’

Shop worker David Welby, 46, added: ‘Leicester hasn’t complied and we’re now all paying the price. But I have no problem obeying the lockdown and I’m glad it’s extended. It’s essential.’

Speaking to the House of Commons last night, the Health Secretary confirmed non-essential shops which opened on June 15 would close again from Tuesday and schools would shut from Thursday as he plunged Leicester back into lockdown.

‘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,’ he told MPs. 

‘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.

‘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.’ 

Soldiers from the Royal Logistics Corp operate a mobile coronavirus testing site at Evington Leisure Centre in Leicester today, with one pictured carrying a box for drivers to put their Covid-19 swabs in

Soldiers from the Royal Logistics Corp operate a mobile coronavirus testing site at Evington Leisure Centre in Leicester today, with one pictured carrying a box for drivers to put their Covid-19 swabs in

Military personnel set up a mobile coronavirus testing site Victoria Park, Leicester this morning

Military personnel set up a mobile coronavirus testing site Victoria Park, Leicester this morning

Mr Hancock said the reintroduced measures will be kept under review and will not be kept in place ‘any longer than is necessary’, adding: ‘We’ll review if we can release any of the measures in two weeks.

‘These Leicester-specific measures will apply not just to the city of Leicester but also the surrounding conurbation including, for example, Oadby, Birstall and Glenfield.’ 

The Health Secretary told the Commons: ‘These actions are profoundly in the national interest too because it’s in everyone’s interests that we control the virus as locally as possible.

‘Local action like this is an important tool in our armoury to deal with outbreaks while we get the country back on its feet.’ 

Leicester mayor pleads for bailout cash to stop firms being crippled by new closure orders – as it’s revealed he broke restrictions to visit his girlfriend 

By Andy Dolan and Eleanor Hayward for the Daily Mail 

A furious row broke out yesterday over the Government’s decision to put Leicester back in lockdown.

The city’s mayor demanded a new bailout for struggling businesses and police complained they needed clear instructions on enforcing restrictions.

The local police commissioner also criticised the ‘drip-feeding’ of information from Whitehall to agencies on the ground. 

There was anger that a map showing which parts of the city and surrounding areas were subject to the lockdown only emerged ‘well after’ it had been announced.

Niall Dickson, head of the NHS Confederation, which represents health service providers, said the lockdown had been ‘clouded in confusion’, warning: ‘What has happened in Leicester could well be repeated elsewhere and we need a transparent approach for any future local lockdowns with clear accountability and public messages that are transparent, consistent and timely.’

Leicester mayor Sir Peter Soulsby (pictured) today demanded a new bailout for struggling businesses as police complained they needed clear instructions on enforcing restrictions

Leicester mayor Sir Peter Soulsby (pictured) today demanded a new bailout for struggling businesses as police complained they needed clear instructions on enforcing restrictions

Leicester mayor Sir Peter Soulsby called for a bailout and said he was ‘very, very concerned’ about the economic impact on the city, which has seen a spike in coronavirus cases in the past two weeks.

Non-essential shops that reopened a fortnight ago were told to close yesterday and schools must shut once more to most pupils from today. 

The nationwide easing of restrictions this Saturday – including the reopening of pubs, hair salons and restaurants – will not extend to the city.

Residents were advised to stay at home as much as possible and warned against all but essential travel. The lockdown zone includes 147 local authority-controlled schools which must close tomorrow except for the children of key workers.

The zone also takes in 239 restaurants, 196 hair salons or barbers and 182 pubs.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said any Leicester employers who have used the furlough scheme up to now could re-furlough employees. 

Yesterday shopping streets in the city centre continued to throng with people. 

Gallowtree Gate in Leicester today as locals brace themselves for the new lockdown after a coronavirus surge

Gallowtree Gate in Leicester today as locals brace themselves for the new lockdown after a coronavirus surge

Three females wearing masks queue outside the testing centre. The city's mayor has said that pubs and restaurants may have to stay closed for two more weeks due to a surge in cases

Three females wearing masks queue outside the testing centre. The city’s mayor has said that pubs and restaurants may have to stay closed for two more weeks due to a surge in cases

People stand in a queue outside a walk-in coronavirus testing centre in Leicester, directed by a man in an orange hi-viz jacket wearing a mask

People stand in a queue outside a walk-in coronavirus testing centre in Leicester, directed by a man in an orange hi-viz jacket wearing a mask

Four men in the military are pictured standing round at a mobile walk-in testing centre at Spinney Hill Park, a 34-acre green space close to the city centre

Four men in the military are pictured standing round at a mobile walk-in testing centre at Spinney Hill Park, a 34-acre green space close to the city centre

Leicestershire Police Federation said it would be ‘impossible’ to manage the situation solely by relying on the public’s ‘common sense’.

Figures released by Leicester City Council yesterday showed that 3,216 Covid-19 cases have been confirmed since the start of the epidemic, with almost a third of those – 944 – reported in the last two weeks. 

Alarmingly, the percentage of young people aged 18 and under being diagnosed with the virus in Leicester has trebled from five per cent to 15 per cent over the last six weeks.

Dr Jon Bennett, of Glenfield Hospital in the city, said staff first noticed an ‘upsurge’ in coronavirus admissions three weekends ago. A quarter of the hospital’s 80 current Covid patients are now on oxygen support.

Dave Stokes, of Leicestershire Police Federation, said his members would be assessing the ‘practicalities’ of the new lockdown.

Mayor urged to quit for breaking rules 

Pictured: Leicester's Sir Peter Soulsby

Pictured: Leicester’s Sir Peter Soulsby

Leicester’s mayor faced calls to resign last night after he broke the lockdown.

Sir Peter Soulsby was forced to apologise when a newspaper revealed he breached rules last month by visiting his partner before restrictions were relaxed. 

The former Labour MP, 71, admitted ‘an error of judgment’ after he stayed overnight at partner Lesley Summerland’s home. Neighbours said he stayed with Miss Summerland, 64, up to four times a week. 

Sir Peter lives seven miles away. On May 1 he tweeted: ‘Stay safe at home.’ 

Leicestershire Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said: ‘Now we’ve got the situation where there is a huge spike in infections. 

Sir Peter Soulsby really should stand down. He has ignored the lockdown rules himself… he is culpable.’

He added: ‘It’s essential we get clarity from the Government as soon as possible on what the public can and can’t do in this targeted lockdown. As we have seen over recent weeks and months, if the guidance and messaging from Government is confusing for the public then it will be almost impossible for our colleagues to police.

‘We still wait for confirmation on what our colleagues’ exact roles will be in policing, and potentially enforcing, this ‘Leicester Lockdown’, and what legislation our members will be asked to use. 

We have seen examples from across the country that ‘common sense’ is impossible to police.’  

Earlier yesterday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said extra testing in Leicester over the last ten days had found an ‘unusually high incidence’ of Covid-19 in children. He added: ‘Therefore, because children can transmit the disease – even though they are highly unlikely to get ill from the disease – we think the safest thing to do is close the schools.

Leicester is one of the most ethnically diverse places in the UK, where only 45 per cent of the 330,000 population identify as white British. The city’s infection rate is three times higher than in Bradford – the next worst-affected area. 

Doctors in Leicester say they first noticed a surge in cases three weeks ago – but it was not until yesterday that the Government published full data showing the extent of the outbreak. 

The Department of Health said: ‘Public Health England began continuously sharing data with the local director of public health as soon as a spike in cases was identified.’

ROBERT HARDMAN: The anger and despair of Leicester residents sent to, er, Coventry 

 So much for all these smart new post-Covid council signs erected all over the city which say: ‘Great to have you back in Leicester’.

As of this week, they might as well add: ‘But I’m afraid you’ve been sent to Coventry.’

Poor Leicester woke up yesterday to discover that it is the first place in Britain that must rewind the clock to the dark days of April after a localised second wave of coronavirus.

The city famous for unearthing a king in a car park (Richard III now rests in great state in Leicester Cathedral) has become famous again for being the first to go back to ‘lockdown’ – although it must be said that I could find absolutely no evidence of any enforcement here yesterday. 

This is no mere ‘spike’. A famously multi-cultural city that accounts for just 0.6 per cent of the population, Leicester now accounts for a whopping ten per cent of all cases of Covid-19 across NHS England.

So any return to normality has been postponed for at least a fortnight. While the rest of the country will see pubs, hotels and campsites reopening this weekend, Leicester has been told to go the other way. ‘Super Saturday’ will be ‘Sober Saturday’ in this part of the East Midlands, with ‘Sombre Sunday’ to follow.

Poor Leicester woke up yesterday to discover that it is the first place in Britain that must rewind the clock to the dark days of April after a localised second wave of coronavirus, writes Robert Hardman (Pictured: Vicki Chapple on her market stall in Leicester)

Poor Leicester woke up yesterday to discover that it is the first place in Britain that must rewind the clock to the dark days of April after a localised second wave of coronavirus, writes Robert Hardman (Pictured: Vicki Chapple on her market stall in Leicester)

The city famous for unearthing a king in a car park (Richard III now rests in great state in Leicester Cathedral) has become famous again for being the first to go back to 'lockdown'

The city famous for unearthing a king in a car park (Richard III now rests in great state in Leicester Cathedral) has become famous again for being the first to go back to ‘lockdown’

Schools must close, along with non-essential shops – many of which had only just reopened – and people are being told to stay at home.

Pubs and restaurants that had been busy preparing to reopen are now tearfully putting the shutters back up.

Worse still, perhaps, is the fact that the residents now find themselves branded as outcasts. 

‘We’re like the Leicester lepers,’ sighs local child protection worker, Tracy Jebbett, calling in to BBC Radio Leicester to complain that her upcoming holiday to Cornwall has just been cancelled. 

The management of her St Austell campsite have just announced a ban on all bookings from Leicester and have told her she cannot come.

Social media, meanwhile, is buzzing with stories of Leicester lads and lasses planning to escape to neighbouring Derby or Nottingham for a night on the tiles this weekend. 

Anyone stupid or brave enough to head out of town in a Leicester City or Leicester Tigers replica shirt can certainly expect ostracism – or worse.

The local authorities have said they will ‘enforce’ restrictions but no one believes that for one moment. This is not Wuhan, and no one is expecting the proverbial ‘ring of steel’. But, thus far, Leicester is not even bothering with a ring of Dettol.

Of more immediate concern to the authorities is why this particular city should be suffering such an explosion of cases after a below-average rate of infection thus far.

The locals have plenty of theories, however. 

‘Parts of the city are very overcrowded and some people have been negligent because we were sailing along near the bottom of the infection league,’ says Manzoor Moghal, chairman of the Muslim Forum think tank, businessman and former chairman of the county council race relations committee. 

‘We have a lot of factories. Leicester is mostly Asian and a lot of families have been visiting each other, thinking they were Covid-free. And now that has been found out.’

Pictured: Robert Hardman stands by a sign reading 'great to have you back in Leicester' as the city's lockdown is extended

Pictured: Robert Hardman stands by a sign reading ‘great to have you back in Leicester’ as the city’s lockdown is extended

Despite widespread publicity about the disproportionate impact of the virus on members of ethnic minorities, and the number of multi-generational households here, Mr Moghal says the message has been lost on many. 

‘That should have made people take more precautions and older people, especially those with underlying issues, have done that. But the young take a different attitude.’

Talk of minorities is somewhat ambiguous. Leicester prides itself on being the most diverse city in Britain. The 2011 census showed the white population (50.6 per cent) would soon be a minority and subsequent polls suggest this is now the case.

However, some of the areas with the highest infection rates are those with predominantly Asian-origin populations on the eastern side of the city.

‘You just want to look at the local park at night,’ says Amit Patel, 26, boss of Milan Sweets in Evington, just down from the once-mighty Imperial Typewriter Factory. ‘There are 500 people in there watching or playing cricket at night.’ 

He only recently reopened his delightful shop and adjacent catering business, and has just brought all his staff back from furlough. Initially, business was back to 80 per cent of pre-pandemic turnover but, as of this week, it has slumped. ‘We can’t afford to shut down again, especially if there is going to be no government support.’

So does he expect Leicester to observe the renewed lockdown? ‘Some will. But others will go straight to the pub in Market Harborough.’

You need only venture off main streets like East Park Road to see some of the places where, according to the locals, fresh cases of the virus are rife. There are numerous small factories, many of them in the textile trade, that have recently gone back to work. 

The lights are on in cluttered workshops, the machinery is grinding away and staff are working at close quarters with no apparent sign of extra ventilation beyond the odd open window. Meanwhile, the gutters outside are littered with piles of empty nitrous oxide (or laughing gas) canisters, a sure sign of back-street partying.

‘Indians like to sit together and share food together,’ says Ali Siddiq, 56, offering me a piece of naan bread as he sits on a bench in Spinney Hill Park. ‘You’ve got houses on the Uppingham Road with shift workers living 12 to a house. That’s why this virus is here. But I am leaving it all to God.’

‘Go out on the streets in the morning and you’ll see all these workers heading for the factories,’ says retired council officer Masoom Jeraj, 69, whom I meet in Spinney Hill Park with his wife, Naznin. 

People observe social distancing in Spinney Hill Park, Leicester as non-essential shops close amid the localised pandemic lockdown

People observe social distancing in Spinney Hill Park, Leicester as non-essential shops close amid the localised pandemic lockdown

Children's play swings remained locked and chained, due to the coronavirus pandemic, in Spinney Hill Park, Leicester today

Children’s play swings remained locked and chained, due to the coronavirus pandemic, in Spinney Hill Park, Leicester today

The couple have come here to get a coronavirus test at the walk-in testing centre run by a team from the 2nd Battalion The Royal Anglians. Everyone seems delighted to see Sergeant Ashley Ward and his team, four of whom are local Leicester lads anyway. 

‘I don’t see this as a task. It’s just something that needs to be done and we are pleased to help,’ says Lance-Corporal Peter Arnold, 26, formerly of nearby London Road.

I am offered a nose-and-throat swab test which is quick and painless with a result promised in 24 hours. I expected a long queue here but there is none at all.

After a while, Kalpesh, 44, turns up with his mother and five-year-old daughter. Kalpesh has been off work for several days with a headache. His doctor told him to see an optician – which he has already done – but he has now lost his sense of smell, too. His mother, he adds, has developed a cough.

I ask where he works. ‘Samworth Brothers,’ he says. Instant alarm bells. The giant food factory has already confirmed cases on its production lines. Kalpesh says he was planning to go back to work in the morning. So is he going? ‘I will wait for the results,’ he says. I wish him the best of luck.

The centre of Leicester is eerily empty, save for the market place. A restricted number of stalls are selling fruit and veg on the same spot where a young Gary Lineker used to work on his father’s stand. 

One of Barry Lineker’s former workers was Vicki Chapple who has long been running her own stall. She has stayed open through the pandemic and has sent plenty of fresh fruit to her sister, an intensive care nurse who has been ‘very poorly’ with the virus.

‘It really saddens me because it makes this city look bad,’ she tells me. ‘We are a strong city and we will bounce back. But I don’t like this idea of segregating the city. If you’re going to have a lockdown, it should be the whole county or else it won’t work.’

Out beyond the city boundaries, however, I find plenty of solidarity. The Bulls’s Head at Whetstone had been due to reopen this weekend and still could – but will not.

‘I had a big order of beer booked for this morning but I have just cancelled it,’ says landlady Jane Irwin. ‘We’d been really looking forward to seeing our regulars again.’But we’re only just beyond the red line so some people might have been worried about other drinkers crossing the line. So we’ll just have to wait. We’ve done three and a half months of lockdown. What’s another two weeks?’

Clothes factory bosses in Leicester vow to defy city lockdown because they cannot afford to lose any more money – even if it puts lives at risk 

By Vivek Chaudhary for the MailOnline 

Garment manufacturers in Leicester have vowed to defy the city’s local coronavirus lockdown, protesting that they cannot afford to lose any more money even if it means putting lives at risk.

Dozens of small to medium sized units making clothes for leading high street and online companies operate in the city’s lockdown area, where coronavirus rates are highest.

All were operating on the first day of the city’s lockdown despite Government ordering non-essential businesses to close and warning residents to stay at home.

Many garment bosses also admitted to MailOnline that they only partially closed during the first lockdown and resumed operating before they should have done.

Local officials have already voiced concerns that one of the reasons for Leicester’s coronavirus spike may be the poor conditions garment workers have to face with little social distancing or PPE provided for them.

They also face long hours toiling in stuffy factories where there is little ventilation, increasing the chances of becoming infected with coronavirus.

Asim Ali, 34, manager of Fazia Fashion which is located in lockdown area said: ‘We haven’t had any guidance from the Government or local authority on if we should close or remain open.

‘But to be honest, we lost so much money during the first lockdown that we cannot afford to close. It would be a disaster for the company and our workers. So, we will remain open, regardless of what the authorities tell us.’

The company employs 35 people and most of them were busy stitching clothes for an order which had to be completed by the end of this week. Not all were wearing masks or gloves while others did not maintain social distance.

Asim Ali, 34, manager of Fazia Fashion which is located in lockdown area said: ‘We haven’t had any guidance from the Government or local authority on if we should close or remain open. But to be honest, we lost so much money during the first lockdown that we cannot afford to close. It would be a disaster for the company and our workers. So, we will remain open, regardless of what the authorities tell us’

Asim Ali, 34, manager of Fazia Fashion which is located in lockdown area said: ‘We haven’t had any guidance from the Government or local authority on if we should close or remain open. But to be honest, we lost so much money during the first lockdown that we cannot afford to close. It would be a disaster for the company and our workers. So, we will remain open, regardless of what the authorities tell us’

Leicester has the largest number of garment workers in the UK and there are 1500 garment manufacturing businesses in the city employing around 10,000 people, the majority from BAME communities.

Figures already shown that BAME people are at greater risk of contracting coronavirus or dying from it.

Mr Ali said: ‘Our workers are predominantly South Asian, and they know the risks they are taking because they are most at risk of catching coronavirus. But what can they do? They are not rich people and need this money to survive.’

He admitted that the company reopened before it was supposed to during the first lockdown, shutting down for only four weeks.

‘We lost around £20,000 per week during that period and had to reopen early. Our workers also wanted to come back. Orders have started picking up again but now this second lockdown has ruined things,’ he added.

Workers at the Fazia fashion factory continue to work despite the newly reimposed lockdown

Workers at the Fazia fashion factory continue to work despite the newly reimposed lockdown

Workers operated their sewing machines despite the real risk of contracting Covid-19

Workers operated their sewing machines despite the real risk of contracting Covid-19 

Richu Uppal, owner of Cute Girl, which specialises in making clothes for young women said that the company employs 12 people and would continue to operate.

She added: ‘We might be getting some help from the Government but financially, we are in big trouble and so are our workers. We only closed for four weeks during the first lockdown.

‘I know coronavirus can kill but so can hunger and that’s why all of us need to continue working.’

Many of the workers inside the small, cramped factory where it was unbearably hot were unable to socially distance while none were wearing face masks or gloves.

Mohmed Talati, 55, also complained about the lack of official guidance

Mohmed Talati, 55, also complained about the lack of official guidance 

Councillor Rashmikant Joshi, who represents the North Evington ward, which has the highest number of coronavirus cases in Leicester and is home to dozens of garment factories said: ‘We are still waiting for all the statistics to completely understand what is behind this increase in coronavirus infections. But the working conditions of many people in Leicester are not good, particularly those who work in the garment industry. I’m in little doubt that this is a contributory factor to the huge surge that we are witnessing’

Councillor Rashmikant Joshi, who represents the North Evington ward, which has the highest number of coronavirus cases in Leicester and is home to dozens of garment factories said: ‘We are still waiting for all the statistics to completely understand what is behind this increase in coronavirus infections. But the working conditions of many people in Leicester are not good, particularly those who work in the garment industry. I’m in little doubt that this is a contributory factor to the huge surge that we are witnessing’

Mohmed Talati, 55, who runs 21 F.C, which specialises in cutting material for garment factories said: ‘We’ll continue to stay open because the factories are going to operate through this lockdown.

‘While that happens, they’ll need material cut for them. There has been very little guidance or advice provided to us. Nobody is sure if we are essential or non-essential and most people have taken the decision to continue operating.’

The manager of Easy Fit, which manufactures women’s clothes said: ‘We closed during the first lockdown for four weeks. After that we had to open, even though we weren’t supposed to.

‘Business was slowly returning to normal and now we have this problem. But we can’t afford to close, and our staff can’t afford not to work. It’s as simple as that.’

Councillor Rashmikant Joshi, who represents the North Evington ward, which has the highest number of coronavirus cases in Leicester and is home to dozens of garment factories said: ‘We are still waiting for all the statistics to completely understand what is behind this increase in coronavirus infections.

‘But the working conditions of many people in Leicester are not good, particularly those who work in the garment industry. I’m in little doubt that this is a contributory factor to the huge surge that we are witnessing.’

.