Leicester will be brought partially out of its coronavirus local lockdown, with nail bars, outdoor pools, and beauty salons all allowed to reopen from tomorrow.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock today announced the rules would be relaxed after a drop in Covid-19 cases in the city, although gatherings in homes are still banned.
Also allowed to reopen in Leicester from tomorrow will be tanning booths, massage parlours, spas, tattoo parlours and body and skin piercing services.
Outdoor music venues and theatres are already legally allowed to reopen in the city, but will now also be removed from guidance that recommended they stay closed.
But the Government said infection rates remain too high to allow the local lockdown to be fully lifted, so the restriction on indoor gatherings will continue.
Seven weeks after Leicester was put into lockdown on June 29 after a spike in Covid-19 cases, other developments today included:
- The number of British adults suffering depression has almost doubled compared to before the pandemic, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS);
- More than 57,000 deaths involving Covid-19 have now been registered in the UK;
- Only 28 per cent of people testing positive reported any evidence of symptoms at the time of their swab test or at either the preceding or subsequent tests;
- The Government will press ahead with its plans to scrap Public Health England.
Coronavirus alert messages are displayed on a sign in the city centre of Leicester on July 30
Positive Covid-19 tests in Leicester have been generally falling since a peak on 557 in late June
Hospital admissions for Covid-19 in Leicester have been at around ten for three weeks in a row
This keeps Leicester in line with the local lockdowns also implemented in the North West in parts of Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and East Lancashire.
Mr Hancock said: ‘My gratitude goes out to the people of Leicester who have all made sacrifices to keep the virus at bay and protect their local communities.
How is the Leicester lockdown being eased?
The following businesses can reopen from tomorrow:
- outdoor pools
- nail bars and salons
- tanning booths and salons
- spas and beauty salons
- massage parlours
- tattoo parlours
- body and skin piercing services
Recommendations that the following remain closed will be removed:
- outdoor theatres
- outdoor opera and music venues
Shielding remains in place but will be relaxed to include the following:
- you may, if you wish, meet in a group of up to 6 people outdoors, including people from different households, while maintaining strict social distancing;
- you do not need to observe social distancing with other members of your household;
- If you are a single adult household (either an adult living alone or with dependent children under 18), you may, if you wish, also form a ‘support bubble’ with one other household. All those in a support bubble will be able to spend time together inside each other’s homes, including overnight, without needing to socially distance.
Current restrictions on gatherings remain in place. You must not:
- meet people you do not live with inside a private home or garden, except where you have formed a support bubble (or for other limited exemptions to be specified in law)
- visit someone else’s home or garden even if they live outside of the affected areas
‘The rate of infection has now dropped to a safe enough level to allow further businesses including beauty salons, nail bars and some outdoor venues to reopen in the area. Current restrictions on gatherings must remain in place to further bring down the rate of infection.
‘We must remain vigilant, and I urge everyone in Leicester to continue to follow the rules – wash your hands regularly, follow social distancing, get yourself a free test as soon as you get any symptoms, and isolate if NHS Test and Trace tells you to.’
Shielding will remain in place in Leicester, but people doing so can now meet in a socially-distanced group outdoors of up to six people from different households.
Those who live in a single adult household who are shielding will also now be allowed to join a ‘support bubble’ in the city with one other household.
Reacting to the news that beauty salons in Leicester can reopen from tomorrow, Minal Parmar, the owner of the Beauty Refinery on London Road, said: ‘I’m super excited because we have been closed since March and obviously lost lots of business throughout.
‘I’ve answered so many phone calls from clients during lockdown and I just can’t wait to be open tomorrow. Luckily, we have four treatment rooms so we can take one client at a time in each room.
‘We have PPE too – face masks – and we’ve obviously always been using the gloves. Everyone has been affected financially – but I just can’t wait to be open.’
The easing of restrictions that took place on August 15 in England will not apply in Leicester, which has seven mobile testing units and four test sites across the city.
The easements nationally on August 15 included opening casinos, bowling alleys, skating rinks, exhibitions halls and conference centres, with guidance on restarting indoor theatrical and concert performances, pilots for large crowds in sports and business events, enabling remaining close contact services to resume such as certain procedures in beauty salons, reopening steam rooms and saunas, and allowing wedding receptions for up to 30 people.
The city will also not be able to resume close contact beauty services to resume, reopen steam rooms and saunas, or allow wedding receptions for up to 30 people.
The Leicester restrictions were reviewed on Monday and bring the city in line with the easements to businesses which were introduced nationally on July 11 and 13.
This map shows positive tests for Covid-19 by area of Leicester for the fortnight up to August 7
People walk along Silver Street in Leicester on July 30 after it was put into a local lockdown
It comes as Mr Hancock announced that the Government will press ahead with controversial plans to scrap Public Health England.
He launched the new National Institute for Health Protection, a new body which will respond to health threats including infectious diseases, pandemics and biologic weapons.
The new organisation, headed up by Tory peer Dido Harding, will begin work immediately but will become formally operational next spring to reduce disruption during the pandemic, it was announced.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock (pictured today) announced the rules would be relaxation after a drop in Covid-19 cases in the city, although gatherings in homes are still banned
It will merge the Covid response work of PHE, NHS Test and Trace and Joint Biosecurity Centre in the ‘first step towards becoming a single organisation’, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.
The Government has faced criticism over the prospect of breaking up the PHE, which was established in 2013 under Conservative health reforms, in the middle of a pandemic.
Ministers have also been accused of using PHE as a ‘scapegoat’ for other failings in the crisis.