A five-step plan for imposing local lockdowns in the case of coronavirus spikes has been announced by the government – as new regulations for Leicester come into force today.

Boris Johnson said the approach is now moving to a local focus rather than locking down the entire country.

Speaking at a Downing Street coronavirus briefing, the prime minister said the five-step plan will include: monitoring, engagement, testing, targeted restrictions, and “as a last resort”, local lockdowns.

Leicester
Image: Leicester is the first city to be placed under a local lockdown

And chief medical officer for England, Professor Chris Whitty, urged people to keep following social distancing rules as lockdown restrictions are further eased, with pubs, restaurants and hairdressers allowed to reopen.

He said: “If individuals, families and firms do not take them seriously the possibility of a second wave goes up sharply.

“The virus is a long way from gone, it’s not going to be gone for a long time.

“Nobody watching this believes there are no risks in the next step.”

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The government also published its new rules for Leicester, the first city to have a local lockdown, including £100 fines up to £3,200 for anyone who breaks the rules.

As well the East Midlands city, the lockdown area includes parts of Leicestershire that touch on the city’s boundaries, including parts of Blaby District and Charnwood in the county.

The rules are to be reviewed every two weeks, with the first review due on 18 July.

The five steps for introducing a local lockdown:

Monitoring

Public Health England (PHE) will work with the joint biosecurity sector by looking at data on the spread of coronavirus and people’s behaviour across the country.

They will look for emerging trends, rising cases and other indicators, while taking into account local factors.

Engagement

If monitoring identifies local problems, NHS Test and Trace and PHE will work with the relevant local authority to develop a deeper understanding of the problem and identify solutions.

They will work with local agencies to keep the local community informed at every stage so they know what they need to do.

Testing

Testing at a local level will then be scaled-up, combined with contract tracing through NHS Test and Trace to try to control the virus at that stage.

Targeted restrictions

If the virus continues to spread, activities at particular locations will be restricted and individual premises will be closed.

Hotspots will have access restricted, with people who have spent time there tested and contact tracing carried out for anyone who tests positive.

Local lockdown

If the previous measures do not stop the spread, local lockdowns will be extended across whole communities, with businesses and schools shut down as people are urged to stay at home.

Why is Leicester going into lockdown?
Why is Leicester going back into lockdown?

Mr Johnson said the government is “continually exploring smarter means of containing the virus”.

The prime minister said they have successfully carried out a few local lockdowns so far.

He said an outbreak was identified in Weston-Super-Mare at a hospital which they closed to visitors and new admissions, all staff and patients were tested and the hospital was given a deep clean, containing the outbreak and allowing the hospital to reopen.

In Kirklees, West Yorkshire, an outbreak was identified at a meat packing plant, which the government shut and sent a mobile testing unit to test all employees and trace any contacts if they tested positive.

The outbreak was contained and the plant has reopened with additional safety measures.

Mr Johnson added: “We are learning the whole time. With each local outbreak, we see what works well and what not so well, so that we do better next time.”

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Leicester restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs must remain closed, with exceptions made for cafes and canteens in hospitals, care homes, prisons and military bases.

Guest accommodation must also be closed apart from people unable to return home, critical workers or for those moving house or attending a funeral.

All non-essential businesses and shops must remain closed unless they are hosting blood donations, and overnight stays at another household are banned.

Sports venues can only be used for elite athletes to train and places of worship are closed except for funerals or if they are hosting voluntary services such as food banks and private prayers by individuals.

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