Health Secretary Matt Hancock has blamed the lockdown in Leicester on people not obeying social distancing rules.
He told Talk Radio host Julia Hartley-Brewer the UKs first local lockdown demonstrates that the public must follow the governments social distancing guidance.
Hartley-Brewer asked Hancock, “Shall we stop tiptoeing around and ask the question is this because people have not been obeying lockdown rules properly and that’s why it’s spreading or is there another reason?”
Hancock said, “It’s clear that people do need to follow the social distancing rules.
“We’ve seen examples of people not following social distancing measures and we’ve got to make sure people do.
“Unfortunately, if we do see local outbreaks, then we are going to have to take this sort of action to get them under control.”
She asked, “It’s very important we identify the cause and reason of the outbreaks so, other people and other areas can learn from it.
“If this is down to a meat-packing factory like it was in another area then we know to tackle that issue.
“If this is a large section of the population of Leicester simply ignoring social distancing rules, carrying on as normal, then that tells us people need to learn lessons from that.”
The Health Secretary responded, “That’s right. Hence we’ve putting in place this further action.”
Sir Peter Soulsby slammed Hancock, and suggested the lockdown should have been implemented much sooner.
Sir Peter told BBC Breakfast, “The Secretary of State [Hancock] announced that he believed there was an outbreak in Leicester the best part of two weeks ago.
“Since then, we’ve been struggling to get information from them [the government] about what data they had, what led them to believe there was a particular problem here, and struggling to get them to keep the level of testing in Leicester.”
Sir Peter was asked, should a localised lockdown been introduced earlier, he replied, “If as seems to be the case, the figures suggest there are issues in the city, I would wish that they had shared that with us right from the start, and I wish they had taken a more speedy decision rather than leaving it 11 days from the Secretary of State’s first announcement…
“That’s a long gap, and a long time for the virus to spread.”
The Mayor added, “If Leicester is to be treated differently in terms of the lockdown, we also need to be treated differently in terms of the support for businesses.”