With the news that Leicester is going into a local lockdown for at least another two weeks, it’s reported that 36 other towns or counties in England may need a local lockdown to prevent a dangerous spike in coronavirus infections.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced on Monday June 1st that Leicester would go back into local lockdown following a surge in reported coronavirus infections.
Relaxations of the rules due to apply to the rest of the country from July 4th, which would see businesses such as pubs, restaurants and hairdressers re-opening, would not apply to Leicester, which has experienced an infection rate three times higher than the nearest comparable city.
The local lockdown is being imposed because the the infection rate in Leicester is now 135 cases per 100,00 head of population, totalling ten percent of reported cases in the country.
The local lockdown in Leicester means that non-essential businesses will have to close again, schools will close except for children of essential workers, and non-essential travel into, out of and around the city is being advised against.
Bus Leicester is not the only are in which coronavirus cases are on the increase, with 36 of the 151 local authority areas in England seeing an increase according to data from Public Health England.
Most of the areas being considered for a local lockdown are densely populated urban areas such as Doncaster, which has seen new cases tripling in the week up to June 19th.
Other areas including Medway, Sunderland, York and the Isle of Wight also recorded an increase in cases. Derbyshire as a whole reported 25 new cases in the week up to June 26th, an increase from 23 the previous week. While a regional lockdown would present more problems than a city-wide local lockdown, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has stated that this is a possibility.
The country as a whole reported a drop in cases, with decreases in Stffordshire, Manchester, Bradford and Birmingham, and some parts of London reporting no new cases last week. Croydon, Wokingham, South Gloucestershire, Bath and North East Somerset, Rutland and City of London reported no new cases for the last two weeks, but other parts of London including Hammersmith and Fulham, Hounslow, Ealing, Westminster, Brent and Kensington and Chelsea remain in the top ten for new infections and so seem likely candidates for a local lockdown.
What the Prime Minister Boris Johnson describes as his ‘whack-a-mole’ strategy – reacting to breakouts by imposing a local lockdown and contact tracing – will be used to control areas of increasing infection.
The city-wide lockdown was brought in because “targeted action” had not worked, said Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
When many coronavirus cases are found in one place like a hospital, factory or school, this is known as a ‘cluster.’ This can normally be dealt with by a local director of public health, usually by closing the premises.
Clusters have been reported in several parts of the UK including:
- Weston-super-Mare hospital, North Somerset
- Two GP surgeries in Enfield, North London
- Three meat factories in Cleckheaton West Yorkshire, and Anglesey and Wrexham in North Wales
When clusters are found to be linked, this is defined as an outbreak, and this seems to have been the case in Leicester. Outside the town centre the areas covered by the local lockdown are:
- Blaby District
- Braunstone Town (including Fosse Park)
- Charnwood Borough
- Glen Parva
- Leicester Forest East (East of the M1)
- Oadby and Wigston Borough
- Thorpe Astley
But which areas of the country other than Leicester are most likely to require a local lockdown? Here’s an alphabetical list of local areas which have seen in increase in infection reports in the week ending 19th June and 26th June:
- Barking and Dagenham
- Hammersmith and Fulham
- Isle of Wight
- Kensington and Chelsea
- Milton Keynes
- Redcar and Cleveland
- Tower Hamlets
- Windsor and Maidenhead
However there are worries that in cases where a local lockdown means that restrictions once eased have to be enforced again, Police are unsure how they are expected to enforce the lockdown.
Guidance and messaging
Dave Stokes, Chairman of the Leicestershire Police Federation, said: “If the guidance and messaging from government is confusing for the public then it will be almost impossible for our colleagues to police.” He has asked for more clarification from the government on what the public can and can’t do during the Leicester local lockdown.
The situation may be different in other areas, for instance a local lockdown may apply only to schools, non-essential retail or food outlets.
In Wales, Public Health Wales has said that it is considering a local lockdown after an outbreak on Anglesey, while in Scotland, the NHS says it is developing a “responsive system of community surveillance” at a national, regional and local level to identify outbreaks quickly.
In Northern Ireland, the government says that plans are in place to handle and outbreaks using existing measures for infection control.
Meanwhile in Australia, people living in 36 suburbs across 10 postcodes in Melbourne have returned to Stage 3 stay-at-home laws until 29 July, and bars and restaurants in California are being closed after reports of over 8,000 coronavirus cases in one day.
With the news that Leicester is going into a local lockdown for at least another two weeks, people living in 36 other towns or counties in England showing a dangerous spike in coronavirus infections may be worrying that they will be the next to have a local lockdown imposed.