Leicester lockdown: Nottingham police 'may fine people trying to leave city'

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer
An NHS public safety message in Leicester after health secretary Matt Hancock imposed a local lockdown following a spike in coronavirus cases in the city. (PA)

As Leicester becomes the first city in the UK to face a local lockdown, a police chief has warned residents they face fines if they attempt to leave the area.

Restrictions have been imposed on Leicester after a rise in coronavirus cases, including shutting non-essential shops and closing schools to most pupils.

Residents who attempt to travel to nearby Nottingham over the weekend – when bars and restaurants start to reopen – will reportedly be stopped by police.

People walk through Leicester city centre as the government reimposed lockdown restrictions. (AP)

‘Education and fines’

Nottinghamshire Police’s Chief Constable Craig Guildford told Nottinghamshire Live that officers may hand out £100 fines if necessary.

He said: "Our approach will remain unchanged. We will be offering education and fines as a last resort.”

Guildford said police “are not anticipating a rise of people from Leicester”, but added: "If we get any intelligence from Leicester such as a minibus or coach travelling to Nottingham then we will act accordingly.”

Health secretary Matt Hancock also did not rule out forcing people to stop travelling outside of Leicester but said he hoped locals would heed the new advice.

"On travel, we are recommending against travel unless it is essential but we are not putting that in place in law at this stage," he said.

"Of course we will if we have to.”

Leicestershire Police said it was a "dynamic situation" and that the force would "provide proportionate policing under the relevant legislation”.

It added: "Our approach has always been clear that we will use the four Es – engage, explain, encourage and enforce where necessary.”

Spike in cases

Announcing the lockdown in Leicester, Hancock said a range of targeted interventions over the last week or so – including working with factories that saw a spike in coronavirus cases – had not managed to stem the outbreak.

Under the new lockdown measures, non-essential shops will shut in Leicester while schools will close to most pupils from Thursday.

People are also being told to avoid all but essential travel to, from and within Leicester and should stay at home as much as possible.

Matt Hancock did not rule out forcing people to stop travelling outside of Leicester. (PA)

The planned opening of restaurants, pubs, cafes, hairdressers and cinemas across England from Saturday will also not happen in Leicester.

However the city's football team said its three remaining Premier League fixtures would not be affected by the lockdown.

Hancock said Leicester had seen 10% of all positive cases in England over the past week, while Leicester's seven-day infection rate was 135 cases per 100,000 – three times that of the next highest city.

Lockdown confusion

There was widespread confusion over exactly which towns and villages in Leicestershire are included in the lockdown after the council said it had initially not been given all the information it needed.

An official map of affected areas was finally released on Monday morning. It includes Braunstone Town (including Fosse Park), Glenfield, Glen Parva, Leicester Forest East (east of the M1) and Thorpe Astley.

Birstall, Thurmaston and all areas of Oadby and Wigston are also included in the lockdown.

A member of the military instructs a person taking a test at a COVID-19 testing centre in Spinney Hill Park in Leicester. (PA)
A worker for Leicester City Council disinfects public toilets in the city. (AP)

Leicester mayor Sir Peter Soulsby criticised the slow response from the government and Public Health England in sharing case and testing data for the city.

"What we said to the government was, it's all very well telling us that the figures are high in Leicester," he said.

"What we need to know is what's happening at the community level, what's happening at the neighbourhood level, what's happening at the street level, because obviously we're a very diverse city and a very big city, and it's only if you have that sort of information you can understand what the overall city figures might amount to.”

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