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UK confirms local lockdown in Leicester due to surge in coronavirus cases

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By Euronews
People queue outside a shop in Leicester amid coronavirus social-distancing measures
People queue outside a shop in Leicester amid coronavirus social-distancing measures   -   Copyright  (Joe Giddens/PA via AP)

The UK government has confirmed lockdown measures to combat the spread of coronavirus will not be lifted in Leicester, and stricter measures will be imposed to tackle the number of cases being reported in the area.

Pubs and restaurants are set to reopen across the country on 4 July, but on Monday evening the Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced a tightening of measures in Leicester and surrounding areas.

The city in the East Midlands has seen 866 COVID-19 infections reported in the last two weeks, a third of its total since the start of the outbreak.

“From tomorrow, non-essential retail will have to close, schools will close from Thursday, staying open for vulnerable children, and children of critical workers, as they did throughout,” Hancock told Parliament.

Sir Peter Soulsby, Leicester's mayor, said earlier today he had received a letter from the Government recommending current restrictions stay in place for another 14 days, In response he said there is “no reason to pick on Leicester, on our economy, on our businesses".

“We are concerned about Leicester, we are concerned about any local outbreak," Prime Minister Boris Johnson said earlier on Monday while on a visit to a construction site in London. "I want to stress to people that we are not out of the woods yet.”

Hancock said the lockdown measures would be “kept under review”, and an assessment would be made in two weeks as to whether any of the measures can be lifted.

“Stay at home as much as you can, and we recommend against all but essential travel to, from and within Leicester,” he said.

The United Kingdom is the worst-hit country in Europe so far for confirmed deaths, with a current total of 43,659 according to government figures.