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Sat, 15 August 2020

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Coronavirus: Labour demands Matt Hancock holds afternoon press conference on Leicester lockdown

Coronavirus: Labour demands Matt Hancock holds afternoon press conference on Leicester lockdown

The Government scrapped daily Downing Street briefings on coronavirus last week (PA)

3 min read

Labour has called on Matt Hancock to hold a press conference at Downing Street after lockdown restrictions were reimposed in Leicester from Tuesday.

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the move had left residents “anxious and confused” and that there were “outstanding questions” about what the localised lockdown would look like.

Daily press conferences updating the nation on the coronavirus response were scrapped last week, with the government promising they would be held sporadically to “coincide with significant announcements”.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs on Monday evening that he was pressing ahead with plans to reintroduce a string of restrictions on the east midlands city from Tuesday.

It came after government figures revealed that the city has a coronavirus infection three times higher than the next highest city of Bradford, with 135 cases per 100,000 people.

To stem the outbreak, non-essential retail will be shut, schools closed for all except the children of key workers, and restrictions on the hospitality sector would remain in place from July 4 despite being lifted in the rest of England.

But responding to the announcement, Mr Ashworth said: “The Government’s response to the situation in Leicester has left people anxious and confused. 
 
“We support the Government’s decision to reintroduce lockdown restrictions. However, there are a number of outstanding questions about how the Government intends to implement these restrictions and get the outbreak back under control.  
 
“There is confusion about essential travel and what it means for people who travel to work outside the boundaries. There is also no clarity about what extra resources will be put in place to increase testing capacity and what financial support will be available to businesses."

He added: “The Government must take firm leadership on this. This is the first local lockdown. People in Leicester - and across the country - are looking for ministers to take responsibility for this issue.
 
“Number 10 said the afternoon press conferences would now only take place if the Government had ‘something really important to say’. We believe the situation in Leicester meets that criteria.”

Details of the boundaries of the lockdown were announced by Leicester County Council on Tuesday morning, confirming that restrictions would remain in place for at least two weeks.

Residents have been urged to make essential journeys only and stay at home as much as they can.

And, speaking on the Today programme, Mr Hancock warned that there would be “further action” if people in Leicester ignore the new local lockdown and travel to neighbouring cities.

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