“We’re a bit jealous of pubs in other cities,” a waitress told a visiting reporter. There was no table service service, she said, pointing to a sign advertising takeout pints of beer and sandwiches.
Such is life in Leicester, the first city in Britain to have a coronavirus lockdown reimposed since the country’s gradual emergence from its long confinement. While restaurants, bars, museums and hair salons in the rest of England were free to welcome customers again July 4, which followed the reopening of department stores and some other shops nearly three weeks earlier, in Leicester the process went into reverse.
With 10% of all positive COVID-19 cases in the country and an infection rate three times that of the next-highest city, British Health Secretary Matt Hancock ordered Leicester closed once more. Schools are shuttered again, gatherings of more than six people are banned and travel outside the city of some 342,000 people is discouraged.
“Some say that the local lockdown is unnecessary. I wish this were true,” Hancock said. “But sadly it remains vital for the health of everyone in Leicester, and the rest of the country, that these restrictions stay in place.”