British transport police are carrying out checks at Leicester train station ahead of the weekend after the city went back into coronavirus lockdown.
Officers were inside Leicester railway station on Thursday and Friday to make spot checks on travellers, after a spike of covid-19 cases occurred in the area.
The force said it was ensuring people were adhering to the rules after Leicester was placed back into lockdown and all residents were asked to avoid travel and remain at home.
Now in some parts dubbed ‘Leicester lepers’, residents of the local area have already been warned by holiday hotspots, set to reopen on July 4, that many will be explicitly banning anyone from locked down Leicester in a bid to avoid virus spread.
Images this week show temporary metal barriers installed at the train station, with travellers needing to queue up before answering the questions of on-duty police officers.
Police are now on duty inside Leicester train station in order to monitor the comings and going in the city, after the coronavirus rate spiked back up last week
A young man wearing a protective face mask is seen in conversation regarding his travel aims
Signs around the station warn of Leicester re-instated high alert status, carrying warnings of the potential knock-on effects of unessential travel.
The local force has even said it will have more officers on duty this weekend than they would for a typical New Year’s Eve – traditionally one of the force’s busiest days on the calendar.
A British Transport Police spokesperson said: ‘People should only be travelling through Leicester if their journey is absolutely essential, so passengers can expect to see an enhanced presence of officers patrolling on trains and at the station.
‘They’ll be engaging with passengers, explaining the need to follow the updated Government advice in the area, and encouraging them to return home if they are not making an essential journey.
‘This is about helping to save lives during a public health crisis. Anyone who does have to travel will also be reminded that face coverings are now mandatory on public transport.’
The fresh lockdown for Leicester arrives at a time when the rest of the country is looking to get back on its feet, with the re-opening of pubs, restaurants and other food outlets.
Barriers have been erected so that police can queue arrivals and departure and ask questions
A family is seen waiting in Leicester station to purchase travel tickets, while police officers prepare to ask questions regarding the nature of the travel
Prime Minister Boris Johnson earmarked Saturday, July 4 as the day pubs would open their doors once again, and welcome in the public with a host of safety measures in place.
The nation’s pubs, bars and restaurants can reopen on Saturday, but Leicester’s will have to remain closed until at least July 18 as part of a strategy to clampdown on the fresh surge of coronavirus cases.
There are fears that some people will be tempted to cross lockdown lines so they can enjoy a drink.
For the coming weekend tourist hotspots in Cornwall and Skegness have already clamped down and urged Leicester locals not to visit.
The news has left many holiday makers in limbo, with Tracy Jebbett of West Knighton in Leicester, telling the BBC: ‘I understand it’s for the safety of the people camping there and the staff, but we have adhered to the lockdown guidelines 110 per cent and feel we are being penalised.
‘We are regulars there and had been looking forward to it, but I felt like a bit of a Leicester leper when I saw the post.’
There are fears that some people will be tempted to cross lockdown lines so they can enjoy a drink in neighbouring cities where restrictions will be lifted
Police have already pledged to stop and fine drivers trying to flee Leicester for drinking or shopping over the coming weekend.
Officers will also carry out spot checks on vehicles leaving the locked-down city around the weekend and could turn them around if their journey is not essential, it was revealed this week, as confusion reigned because some areas in the city limits are in lockdown while neighbours are not.
Leicestershire Police is also threatening £100 fines amid growing concerns that residents may flee for the county’s open pubs, hair salons or other attractions while patrols will also break up mass gatherings in the city after they were partially blamed for a spike in coronavirus cases in June.
A man with a small pack of luggage stops to outline to a patrol officer his travel arrangements
Rail providers in Leicester, including East Midlands Railway (EMR) has asked people only to travel if necessary and limit all journeys if possible.
‘Local lockdown measures are now in place in Leicester,’ said an EMR spokesman.
‘Please only travel if your journey is essential. Do not travel if you think you may have coronavirus symptoms or are feeling unwell, keep your distance from others and wear a face covering at all times.’