People in 'at-risk' towns and cities face anxious wait over proposed local lockdowns

13 July 2020, 16:32

Residents tell of fears over possibility of new local lockdowns

By Maddie Goodfellow

People in towns and cities across England are anxiously waiting to find out if their area will have a "Leicester-style" local lockdown imposed.

Residents in Bradford, Blackburn and Ashford in Kent today told LBC News that that they are "worried and sad about the possibility of local lockdowns" but that in some cases "it could do the area some good" amid rising numbers of cases.

On Monday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed that local outbreaks of Covid-19 have led to more than 100 "local actions" being taken across the country.

It comes amid mounting fears of a second wave of coronavirus infections hitting the UK after lockdown was eased again last weekend.

Factories, hospitals and other workplaces have been shut down and, in Herefordshire, a farm has been put into lockdown.

Monday also marks two weeks since it was announced Leicester would be the first city to be placed under local lockdown due to a spike in cases.

Coronavirus legislation requires any local restrictions be reviewed, which will reportedly happen later this week.

Leicester has been in local lockdown for two weeks
Leicester has been in local lockdown for two weeks. Picture: PA

On Sunday, a leaked document revealed that ministers have drawn up a list of the 20 councils most in danger of coronavirus outbreaks.

The classified document, leaked to the Observer and Guardian, includes six areas of "concern", with three councils needing "enhanced support".

Officials have ordered the army to deploy extra mobile testing units to a series of hotspots around Britain from this weekend, the newspapers report.

Public Health England reportedly briefed Government health chiefs last week that ministers were considering publishing a list of 10 areas hit with outbreaks.

Leicester tops the new list, requiring "intervention". The East Midlands city became the first to enter local lockdown after seeing nearly 900 cases in a fortnight.

Leicester mayor says they will need Government support during lockdown

Bradford is one of the councils assessed as needing "enhanced support" from the government due to high levels of coronavirus cases.

Currently in the town, 4.3 per cent of coronavirus tests return positive, the third highest rate behind Leicester (5.7 per cent) and Kirklees (5 per cent).

A Bradford resident told LBC News: "I'm worried about it. You've got kids starting school in September, everyone's just going in and out of the pubs."

She also said the area, which had a mobile testing unit set up and ran by the army over the weekend, could benefit from a local lockdown.

"To be honest, I think a local lockdown might do the area a bit of good."

She continued: "But the problem is, we have the mobile testing units, but lots of people, me included, can't get down there. It's okay if you have your own transport, but I'd have to get a taxi, and I don't think they would go in there."

More towns are being warned they could face a Leicester-style lockdown
More towns are being warned they could face a Leicester-style lockdown. Picture: PA

Another resident told LBC News: "If there was a local lockdown I think whoever is going to be dealing with it need to put together a stronger plan to help the local businesses.

"They need to think about all the people getting made redundant because at the end of the day they need to pay their bills, their rent, their council tax so they will need some sort of relief for people.

"Everyone is getting stressed by the situation and we keep getting told different things are happening so the government needs to get their heads together and work out what is going on."

However, he also said a local lockdown would be good for the area.

"I'd feel safe knowing that no one can get into Bradford and nobody can get out of Bradford. I'd feel a bit sad not being able to meet people and go to other places but I understand at the end of the day it's for everyone's safety."

Boris Johnson denies "lost week" in responding Leicester spike

In Blackburn, local resident Michael Wade said he thinks people in the town seem "oblivious" to the risks.

On Friday, the council warned residents that they could face a "Leicester-style" local lockdown if people do not follow the coronavirus guidelines.

Council officials have also announced a new mobile testing centre to get the town "second wave ready" is being set up at Witton Park Academy.

They also said that while Blackburn has not had "the level of outbreak seen in Leicester" there are concerns over the number of positive tests in the area.

Michael told LBC News: "There's obviously increased risk and I think a lot of people are oblivious to the risk of the R number creeping up.

"There are quite a few people just walking about not keeping their distance.

"I'm worried about the high numbers we are seeing in Blackburn. People are taking precautions and think that will be enough to keep them safe and it isn't.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock announces local lockdown in Leicester

On Monday, Health bosses in Kent ruled out bringing in a local lockdown in Ashford and Folkestone for the time being.

It's reported they're two of the most at-risk areas in the country for another outbreak of Covid-19.

The county council have admitted infection rates are high but say it's down to more testing and having lots of care homes.

It also said higher infection rates in the towns are down to more testing and the London commuter effect.

However, Jane Pajam, manager at Linda's Florist In Ashford, said she doesn't think a local lockdown would be a problem for her business.

She told LBC News: "I don't think a local lockdown would affect us negatively as we are still able to do deliveries and work from our studio. It wouldn't be major.

"The footfall in the centre of town is low anyway, people aren't very confident in the town.

She continued: "But I think a local lockdown would have a big impact on the little shops in town who rely on people coming through the doors for income.

"It would impact the town massively."

Another resident said he would be "really disappointed" if there was a local lockdown, saying he thinks the town has come "a long way".

The Department of Health and Social Care said 44,819 people had died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Friday - up by 21 from 44,798 the previous day.

The Government figures do not include all deaths involving Covid-19 across the UK, which are thought to have passed 55,000.

Additional reporting by Emily Hulme, Vicki Smith, Alex Stefanovic