Leicester businesses which have been forced into another lockdown due to the local COVID-19 spike have been told by the authorities that they will not be receiving any special treatment.
Several businesses leaders have warned the English government that unless extra money was put into Leicester’s economy, hundreds of companies will risk going bankrupt.
Non-essential retailers that are situated in an area that goes beyond Leicester’s boundaries, were forced to close for the time being in order to try and minimise the local spread of the global disease.
Businesses received numerous accusations that they had contributed to a large number of cases, after not making use of social distancing and proper hygiene when operating throughout the pandemic.
Bars, restaurants and hairdressers, which are gradually reopening throughout the rest of England and are desperate to start earning some money again, were forced to remain closed in the city.
Currently, the lockdown is set to remain in place until at least July 18, yet there are several reports indicating that it could be extending by a further two weeks if the city’s COVID-19 infection rate does not fall.
The Leicester mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, stated that health secretary Matt Hancock had made it clear to him on Friday 3 July that more money will be provided to firms in the city in order to support them throughout this difficult time.
However, contradicting what Hancock allegedly told Sir Soulsby, Leicester West MP Liz Kendall, who has been all for the businesses receiving extra funds, stated that she received a letter from Nadhim Zahawi, the Minister for Business and Industry at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, where he stated that Leicester will be given no extra assistance.
In the letter, Mr Zahawi stated that “The Chancellor has already said there are no plans to change the scope or extend any of the schemes currently available.”
Throughout the rest of the letter, Zahawi said that there is plenty of support already being provided to firms around the country, and he hoped that the Leicester lockdown would soon be lifted to allow businesses to flourish once again.
The Labour Party’s Ms Kendall stated that this is “totally unacceptable”.
She added that “We have no idea when we are going to come out of this lockdown, but the Government has now confirmed there will be no extra financial help for our city.”
Ms Kendall concluded by saying that she thinks that “it is wrong the government isn’t saying ‘you’re in lockdown for longer, you’ll get the help for longer’.”
Leicester’s rate of new cases per 100,000 is way higher than any other city in England, registering 116 new cases for every 100,000 people in the city in the week ending July 5.
Whilst this is lower than the 141 cases per 100,000 registered in the week before, it is still more than three times more than the next highest in England, with that being Rochdale with around 27 cases per 100,000 people.
On June 8 it was revealed that there were considerations for a county-wide lockdown, with County council leader Nick Rushton saying that “there was even an argument that the boundary could have included the whole of Leicestershire.” Leicester became the first city in England to be placed in local lockdown on Monday July 6 after a large spike in new cases over recent weeks.