Neighbors living just inches from each other on the outskirts of Leicester have reported their confusion when the communities have been divided between those who have to stay at home and those who will enjoy the nationwide easing of the block.
Health Minister Matt Hancock confirmed yesterday evening that the blockade measures in the city of East Midlands will be extended by at least two weeks after a dramatic increase in coronavirus cases. As of today, shops that are not absolutely necessary will be closed again and the schools will be closed from Thursday.
The City Council of Leicester and Public Health England today released a map detailing which areas in Leicestershire will be affected by the extended closure. The border extends to Birstall north of the city and Wigston to the south.
Those who live on the same street in Scraptoft today said they were "completely confused" by the government's blockade because half of the street is strictly blocked and others have the opportunity to enjoy the July 4 nationwide easing restrictions.
77-year-old Kathleen McDonagh, who lives a few meters within the border with her 56-year-old daughter Mary, has to wait at least two weeks before taking relaxed lockdown measures and heading to the pub, hair salons and restaurants next door to the rest of the UK.
The couple must also walk longer before visiting their children and grandchildren, enjoying a cup of tea at The White Horse, or attending Mass in the nearby St. Joseph Catholic Church.
Meanwhile, 77-year-old Veronica Cayless, who lives just a few meters from the McDonaghs, is looking forward to starting her life with most Brits on the so-called "Super Saturday".
Her home is outside the extended cut-off limit announced last night amid an increase in the Covid 19 cases in Leicester. The city has caused around 10 percent of all positive cases in the UK in the past week.
Leicester has an infection rate of 135 per 100,000 people, which is three times higher than in the next higher region. Hospital admissions are also well above the norm at six to ten per day.
Lisa Jones (52), Shelly Evans (56) and Helen Bale (49) remain locked in Leicester, while their neighbors David Blohm (74) and Emil Gryglewski do not because the new border runs through their street
Pictured: Where the border runs across Leicester at Bowhill Grove after Matt Hancock announced a local extension of the closure
Pictured: The restricted area in Leicester, where some Brits are locked while their neighbors are not
Kathleen McDonagh, 77, who lives with her daughter Mary (seen together), 56, inside the border at Scraptoft, has to wait at least two weeks before she can enjoy relaxed lockdowns and go to the pub, in hairdressing salons, restaurants next to the Rest of Britain
The two families live in a quiet suburban street that consists of semi-detached houses with four bedrooms and well-kept lawns.
However, imposing a local blacklist means that some residents must remain isolated, while others enjoy the same exemption as the rest of the country from Saturday.
Less than a mile from Ms. McDonagh and Ms. Cayless, neighbors that are both inside and outside the restricted area are separated by a wooden picket fence.
As Leicester is the first area in the UK to be subject to local blocking measures:
- All nonessential deals are closed as of today, and the law must be enforced to support the new restrictions after more than 800 cases have been registered in Leicester since mid-June and the area accounted for around 10 percent of all positive tests in the UK region last week;
- The schools will be closed from Thursday and will not be opened again until the next semester, as there are fears that an unusually high incidence among children will drive the spread. They remain open to vulnerable children and descendants of key workers.
- People are advised to avoid all travel to, from and within Leicester and to "stay at home as much as possible". However, there is currently no formal travel ban.
- The loosening of the block in England on Saturday does not apply to Leicester, which means that pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and cinemas remain closed.
- Unlike the rest of England, where the most clinically vulnerable can spend more time outdoors, city protection is not relaxed on July 6th.
Those on the divided street in Scraptoft reported their confusion about the invisible barrier today – but insisted that following the blocking rules was the right thing to do.
Ms. McDonagh, who lives a few meters inside the border, said she was looking forward to seeing her grandson, whom she has not been able to visit since the March curfew.
"I was looking forward to that," she said. "I saw him every day. I really miss him. It's terrible. I miss not going to the stores. I like meeting my sister in town once a month and drinking a cup of tea, but I haven't seen her since March.
"It's my birthday in August and my son was going to invite us to a party, but I don't think that will happen now."
The Leicestershire County Council released this map today, which shows the area subject to strict blocking measures
The data show how the Coronavirus outbreak in Leicester has increased over time. The UK figures only include first pillar swab tests which, according to official sources, are only given to patients with medical needs or key personnel
The Leicester barrier crosses Telford Way and Kinross Avenue, with neighbors separated by a wooden fence and now in completely different situations
That evening, the Telford Way / Kinross Avenue border road was busy with children and neighbors outside their homes one summer evening, doing jobs, chatting, and riding bicycles
For daughter Mary, a freelance print designer who works from home, she also lacks the family – and the opportunity to go to church.
"We haven't been to the fair since March," she said. & # 39; we miss it. We're watching TV crowds, but it's not the same thing. We cannot receive a community. & # 39;
However, the couple is convinced that following blocking rules is the right thing to do. Leicester has registered 944 positive Covid 19 cases within two weeks – almost a third of the 3,216 cases in the city since the pandemic started.
"We do everything we can to follow the rules and help the community," said Mary, who revealed that they didn't even see family members across the street, except for Zoom.
"We will never get out of the lockdown unless people just crawl under it and do it for everyone else."
Meanwhile, Ms. Cayless, who lives right across from the McDonaghs, is looking forward to visiting one of her sons, who lives in St. Albans, for the first time since Christmas.
& # 39; It's totally confusing for everyone. But I'm lucky. I'm looking forward to walking with my girlfriend, which I couldn't do there, ”she said.
Ms. Cayless added that she was not sure how to implement the extended ban. How can someone test where someone comes from when they cross the border?
Less than a mile away, residents inside and outside the restricted area near Thurncourt are only separated by a wooden picket fence.
Helen Bale, 49, who is in the lockout, is disappointed that she will have to wait longer to visit friends and family outside of Leicester, as those within the zone are limited to important trips only.
Matt Hancock announced that non-essential stores will close today and schools in Leicester will close on Thursday
The streets of Leicester were almost empty this morning when residents responded to warnings of an increase in the corona virus
The market remained boarded up in Leicester today, and the blockage should be tightened again to combat the spread
The Gallowtree Gate in Leicester today prepares as a local for the new closure after an increase in the corona virus
A resident is walking down a street in the North Evington area of Leicester today, amid the renewed blockade
"We wanted to visit my in-laws in Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire, but we can't go now," said the caregiver. "If I were stopped by the 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 to shop. Ms. Bale lives in the restricted area, but works outside.
»My boss called me and how do you feel? If I don't go in, I won't get paid. I just don't see how it will work, ”she said.
The 51-year-old neighbor Lisa Jones is also in the Covid hotspot area and is still blocked.
"I'm confused," said the dance school receptionist. 'May I be on the other side of this fence? Can I look for the bare minimum in local stores because the stores I use are just outside the restricted area? & # 39;
Ms. Jones' daughter had a baby shortly before the first lock-up period and the visits were just resumed. Now they have to end.
"I've only seen my grandson three or four times. And now I can't see him. It is devastating.
Royal Logistics Corp soldiers operate a mobile coronavirus test site at the Evington Leisure Center in Leicester today. One of them carries a box in which the drivers can use their Covid 19 swabs
Military personnel set up a mobile coronavirus test site in Victoria Park, Leicester this morning
How a large BAME population, poverty and crowded households could have contributed to Leicester's rise in some cases
Government officials, local politicians and scientists disagree as to whether Leicester is experiencing a real increase in certain cases or whether better tests simply find more of them where it wasn't before.
It is also not clear whether there are any characteristics of Leicester that make it more likely that an increase will occur in certain cases, or whether accidental coincidences have led to the first “second wave” taking place there. Experts say that many of the risk factors in Leicester are the same in all major cities in England.
The city's mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, said this morning on BBC Radio 4 that a report sent to him by the government actually confirms that it is very likely that the increase in the number of positives identified is due to increased testing, and that in fact, maybe nothing is of great importance in these results. & # 39;
The city's public health director, Ivan Browne, said: “Interestingly, (the increase in cases) it is very much the younger working age population and mostly the eastern part of our city. We have started to see this level through our test program.
“Young people work in many industries across the city. At this stage, we try to collect as much epidemiological information as we can to really try to understand and understand it. I don't think we see a single source or smoking gun at the moment. "
It was always likely that city overvoltages would occur first. There are more people who increase the risk, and these people are more likely to live in densely populated areas and come into contact with strangers on a regular basis.
Dr. Shaun Fitzgerald of Cambridge University said: “There will be differences in the ease with which people can maintain physical distance between densely populated areas and rural areas, so it is not surprising to me that we may see localized torches. Oops, which in turn have to be suppressed by delayed relaxation or temporary reintroduction of some restrictions on certain movements and activities. "
Leicester also has a high level of deprivation, which affects people's lives in a way that puts them at risk of getting the virus.
Dr. Simon Clarke, microbiologist at the University of Reading, told MailOnline: “In disadvantaged areas, people have to go to work more often, work less from home, and use public transport more. You cannot distance yourself from others. & # 39;
The city's Samworth Brothers sandwich factory reported over the weekend that it had diagnosed cases of Covid-19 among its employees.
Food processing factories pose a higher risk of transmission because the virus can survive longer in cold environments on hard surfaces and people's airways become more susceptible to infection.
Dr. Clarke added that the type of work people do could increase their risk.
"Blue collar cities are now at higher risk than places like London and Manchester that offer more financial services," he added.
That evening, on a summer evening, Grenzstrasse was full of children and neighbors outside their homes, doing jobs, chatting, and riding bicycles.
At one point on the road, however, a series of paving stones cross the asphalt. This is the route of an old railroad line that marks the boundary between the city of Leicester and the Market Harborough District, which is outside the restricted area.
The first house in the "free world" of the Market Harborough District belongs to David Blohm, 61, a retired builder.
"I don't understand it," he said to MailOnline. »Before my wife and I go out to dinner every two weeks, I look forward to doing it again. But I'm really worried about Covid. I think they unlocked it too soon. & # 39;
In the meantime, 33-year-old Emil Gryglewski is happy to be on the right side of the stop line, but to be sympathetic to his neighbors who don't.
"I understand that it's a difficult situation," he said. “I'm not sure it's a good way to stop the virus, but if you want to do it, there has to be a line somewhere. Unfortunately, this is the line. & # 39;
"I'm on the good side, they're on the dark side," joked the father. & # 39; I'm sorry for her. I know it's not fair. & # 39;
People elsewhere in the city seemed to agree to the blockade today, but were furious that it was necessary.
34-year-old accountant Vina Chaudhry told The Sun: “I am embarrassed to be born and live in Leicester and I hope the government is setting an example for our city. How can some people be so stupid and violate social distance rules that have been put in place to protect us? The city is full and we are now being punished for those idiots who don't follow the rules. & # 39;
46-year-old shop worker David Welby added: “Leicester did not stick to it and we are all now paying the price. But I have no problem keeping the lock and I'm glad it was extended. It is important. & # 39;
When he spoke to the House of Commons last night, the Secretary of Health confirmed that non-essential businesses that opened on June 15 would close today and the schools would close on Thursday when he put Leicester back in a locked state
"After getting clinical advice on what to do and discussing it with the local team in Leicester and Leicestershire, we made some difficult but important decisions," he told MPs.
“We decided that from tomorrow on retail stores that are not absolutely necessary will have to be closed. As children are particularly affected by this outbreak, schools will have to be closed from Thursday to remain open to vulnerable children and children of critical workers during.
& # 39; Unfortunately, the clinical advice is that the July 6 easing of shielding measures cannot now take place in Leicester.
“We recommend people in Leicester to stay at home as much as possible, and we recommend not just traveling to, from and within Leicester. We will closely monitor compliance with social distance rules and take further steps if necessary. & # 39;
Mr. Hancock Said the reintroduced measures would continue to be reviewed and not held in place "longer than necessary," adding: "We will review whether we can publish one of the measures in two weeks.
"These Leicester-specific measures apply not only to the city of Leicester, but also to the surrounding metropolitan area, including for example Oadby, Birstall and Glenfield."
The health minister told Commons: “These measures are also deeply in the national interest, as it is in everyone's interest that we control the virus as locally as possible.
"Local measures like this are an important tool in our armory to fight outbreaks as we get the country back on its feet."
The Mayor of Leicester pleads for bailouts to prevent businesses from being crippled by new closures – it turns out he broke the restrictions on his girlfriend's visit
By Andy Dolan and Eleanor Hayward for the Daily Mail
There was an angry argument yesterday about the government's decision to block Leicester again.
The city's mayor called for a new bailout for companies in difficulty, and the police complained that they needed clear instructions on how to enforce restrictions.
The local police commissioner also criticized the "drip delivery" of information from Whitehall to local authorities.
It was annoying that a map showing which parts of the city and surrounding areas were affected by the blockage only appeared "long after" its announcement.
Niall Dickson, leader of the NHS confederation representing health care providers, said the ban was "confused" and warned: "What happened in Leicester could well be repeated elsewhere and we need a transparent approach to future local closures . " with clear accountability and public messages that are transparent, consistent and timely. & # 39;
The Mayor of Leicester, Sir Peter Soulsby (pictured), today called for a new bailout for companies in difficulty as the police complained about needing clear instructions on how to enforce restrictions
The Mayor of Leicester, Sir Peter Soulsby, called for a bailout and said he was "very, very concerned" about the economic impact on the city, which has seen coronavirus cases increase in the past two weeks.
Non-essential stores that reopened two weeks ago should close yesterday, and schools will need to close for most students 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 were warned about all but essential travel. The exclusion zone comprises 147 schools controlled by the local authorities, which will have to close tomorrow except for the children of the key workers.
The zone also includes 239 restaurants, 196 hair salons or hairdressers and 182 pubs.
The Prime Minister's spokesman said that any employers in Leicester who have previously followed the vacation program could leave the workers on vacation again.
Yesterday, the shopping streets in the city center were still full of people.
The Gallowtree Gate in Leicester today prepares as a local for the new closure after an increase in the corona virus
Three women with masks stand in front of the test center. The city's mayor has said that pubs and restaurants may have to remain closed for two weeks due to an increase in some cases
People stand in line at a walk-in coronavirus test center in Leicester, led by a man in an orange hi-viz jacket with a mask
Four military men stand in a mobile walk-in test center in Spinney Hill Park, a 34-hectare green space near the city center
The Leicestershire Police Federation said it was "impossible" to deal with the situation only based on "common sense" from the public.
Figures released yesterday by Leicester City Council show that 3,216 Covid-19 cases have been confirmed since the epidemic began, almost a third – 944 – of which have been reported in the past two weeks.
The number of young people under the age of 18 diagnosed with the virus in Leicester has trebled from five to 15 percent in the past six weeks.
Dr. Jon Bennett of Glenfield Hospital in the city said employees first noticed an increase in coronavirus intakes three weekends ago. A quarter of the hospital's 80 Covid patients are now receiving oxygen support.
Leicestershire Police Federation's Dave Stokes said its members would assess the "practical aspects" of the new ban.
Mayor urged to stop violating rules
Pictured: Sir Peter Soulsby from Leicester
Leicester's mayor was faced with calls for resignation last night after the block was lifted.
Sir Peter Soulsby had to apologize when a newspaper revealed that he had broken the rules last month by visiting his partner before the restrictions were relaxed.
The former Labor MP, 71, admitted "an error of judgment" after staying at home with partner Lesley Summerland. Die Nachbarn sagten, er sei bis zu viermal pro Woche bei Miss Summerland (64) geblieben.
Sir Peter lebt sieben Meilen entfernt. Am 1. Mai twitterte er: "Bleib sicher zu Hause."
Andrew Bridgen, Abgeordneter von Leicestershire Tory, sagte: "Jetzt haben wir die Situation, in der es einen enormen Anstieg der Infektionen gibt.
Sir Peter Soulsby sollte wirklich zurücktreten. Er hat die Sperrregeln selbst ignoriert … er ist schuld. "
Er fügte hinzu: „Es ist wichtig, dass wir von der Regierung so schnell wie möglich Klarheit darüber erhalten, was die Öffentlichkeit bei dieser gezielten Sperrung tun kann und was nicht. Wie wir in den letzten Wochen und Monaten gesehen haben, wird es für unsere Kollegen fast unmöglich sein, die Polizei zu überwachen, wenn die Anleitung und die Nachrichten der Regierung für die Öffentlichkeit verwirrend sind.
"Wir warten immer noch auf die Bestätigung, welche genauen Rollen unsere Kollegen bei der Überwachung und potenziellen Durchsetzung dieses" Leicester Lockdown "spielen werden und welche Gesetze unsere Mitglieder anwenden sollen.
Wir haben Beispiele aus dem ganzen Land gesehen, dass "gesunder Menschenverstand" für die Polizei unmöglich ist. "
Der für Polizei und Kriminalität zuständige Kommissar Lord Willy Bach akzeptierte, dass die neue Sperrung gerechtfertigt war, fügte jedoch hinzu: „Erstaunlicherweise wurde uns erst lange nach der Ankündigung eine Karte des (Sperr-) Gebiets zur Verfügung gestellt. Das wurde jetzt herausgegeben, aber leider haben wir zum Zeitpunkt der Einführung der Maßnahmen nur minimale Leitlinien zur praktischen Umsetzung erhalten.
„Ich habe großes Verständnis für die mit der Lieferung beauftragten Agenturen. Sie brauchten von Anfang an Klarheit, und ich bin erstaunt, dass es im Laufe des Tages mit Tropfen gefüttert wird. & # 39;
Er sagte, die Polizei von Leicestershire werde "weiterhin die vier Es (Engage, Explain, Encourage, Enforce) verwenden", warnte jedoch davor, dass die Befugnisse der Beamten ohne zusätzliche Gesetzgebung begrenzt bleiben.
Gesundheitsminister Matt Hancock sagte gestern zuvor, dass zusätzliche Tests in Leicester in den letzten zehn Tagen eine „ungewöhnlich hohe Inzidenz“ von Covid-19 bei Kindern ergeben hätten. Er fügte hinzu: „Da Kinder die Krankheit übertragen können – obwohl es sehr unwahrscheinlich ist, dass sie an der Krankheit erkranken -, halten wir es für am sichersten, die Schulen zu schließen.
Leicester ist einer der ethnisch vielfältigsten Orte in Großbritannien, wo sich nur 45 Prozent der 330.000 Einwohner als weiße Briten ausweisen. Die Infektionsrate der Stadt ist dreimal höher als in Bradford – dem nächst am schlimmsten betroffenen Gebiet.
Ärzte in Leicester sagten, sie hätten vor drei Wochen zum ersten Mal einen Anstieg in Fällen bemerkt – aber erst gestern veröffentlichte die Regierung vollständige Daten, die das Ausmaß des Ausbruchs belegen.
Das Gesundheitsministerium sagte: "Public Health England begann kontinuierlich mit dem Austausch von Daten mit dem lokalen Direktor für öffentliche Gesundheit, sobald ein Anstieg der Fälle festgestellt wurde."
ROBERT HARDMAN: Die Wut und Verzweiflung der Einwohner von Leicester, die nach Coventry geschickt wurden
Soviel zu all diesen schicken neuen Post-Covid-Ratsschildern, die in der ganzen Stadt aufgestellt wurden und sagen: "Schön, dass Sie wieder in Leicester sind."
Ab dieser Woche könnten sie genauso gut hinzufügen: "Aber ich fürchte, Sie wurden nach Coventry geschickt."
Der arme Leicester ist gestern aufgewacht und hat festgestellt, dass es der erste Ort in Großbritannien ist, der nach einer lokalisierten zweiten Welle von Coronaviren die Uhr auf die dunklen Tage im April zurückspulen muss.
Die Stadt, die berühmt dafür ist, einen König auf einem Parkplatz ausfindig zu machen (Richard III. Liegt jetzt in einem großartigen Zustand in der Kathedrale von Leicester), ist wieder berühmt geworden, weil sie als erste wieder zu "Lockdown" zurückgekehrt ist – obwohl man sagen muss, dass ich absolut keine finden konnte Beweise für eine Durchsetzung hier gestern.
Dies ist keine bloße "Spitze". Leicester ist eine berühmte multikulturelle Stadt, auf die nur 0,6 Prozent der Bevölkerung entfallen. Heute macht sie satte zehn Prozent aller Fälle von Covid-19 im gesamten NHS England aus.
Daher wurde jede Rückkehr zur Normalität um mindestens vierzehn Tage verschoben. Während im Rest des Landes an diesem Wochenende Pubs, Hotels und Campingplätze wiedereröffnet werden, wurde Leicester angewiesen, den anderen Weg zu gehen. "Super Saturday" wird "Sober Saturday" in diesem Teil der East Midlands sein, gefolgt von "Sombre Sunday".
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'
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
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
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'
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 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
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.'
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