Coronavirus update: Understanding local lockdowns

On the 4th July, England took a further step towards normality by easing its lockdown status. Pubs and hairdressers were amongst the businesses allowed to reopen with new safety precautions. Although some people are understandably concerned about these changes, many are welcoming our tentative return to normality. However, as the guidance is relaxed for the majority of the country, the Government is prepared to lockdown specific local regions if it’s considered necessary to help control the spread of the virus.

What are local lockdowns?

Following a briefing by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a national lockdown started in England from 23rd March. New rules legally prevented non-essential businesses from opening as well as restricting the movement of people, in an effort to control the spread of the coronavirus.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own strategies in place to tackle the coronavirus.

As these restrictions are gradually being relaxed in England, it’s hoped that local lockdowns will prevent the spread of the coronavirus in a more targeted way without unnecessarily reducing freedoms for everyone, meaning the economy can restart and the return to normal life can be progressed.  

Is anywhere in England locked down locally?

Leicester is the first region in England to be placed under a local lockdown after a spike in new cases of the coronavirus there. This means that non-essential businesses and schools will again be closed in an effort to limit the spread. The Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, “”We recommend to people in Leicester, stay at home as much as you can, and we recommend against all but essential travel to, from and within Leicester.”

What are the key differences between Leicester and the rest of the England?

These are the key differences for people living under local lockdown in Leicester:

  • Non-essential shops have closed
  • Schools have closed
  • The national relaxation of rules for pubs and restaurants does not apply
  • The national relaxation of shielding measures for vulnerable people will not take place  

It’s not yet clear when lockdown will be lifted in Leicester. There are several factors which need to be considered, including the number of new infections, and the rate at which they are increasing.

However, on 7th July Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the House of Commons that with regards to Leicester, this is heading in the right direction as the number of daily cases has dropped from 135 to 117 cases per 100,000 people.  

What can I do to help minimise the chances of a local lockdown?

It is important that we stay vigilant and  follow the social distancing guidance, even though we have been given more freedom. Bradford, Barnsley and Rochdale are other areas which are being monitored closely and more could be added to the list of places that could potentially fall into local lockdown should we not continue to follow NHS and government advice.

So as the national lockdown measures are eased, it’s important that we continue to follow the Government guidance:

  • Continue to practice social distancing, 1 metre minimum (ideally 2 metres)
  • Wear a face mask when social distancing isn’t possible (e.g. on public transport) 
  • Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly (using soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds)
  • When the facilities for handwashing aren’t available make sure to use hand sanitizer (take your own in case it’s not provided)
  • Avoid large groups of people unless absolutely necessary
  • When visiting shops and other businesses, make sure to follow the precautions they’ve put in place (e.g. adhering to a one way system, providing personal details if required, using sanitary products etc.)  

For more information on the lockdown measures in place in Leicester, please refer to this guidance.

Phil Day By Phil Day Superintendent Pharmacist Published 10/07/2020