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Covid-19: How does local lockdown work, and is it effective?

BMJ 2020; 370 doi: (Published 03 July 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m2679

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  1. Elisabeth Mahase
  1. The BMJ

England has announced its first local lockdown in response to covid-19, just as it begins to ease national restrictions. But will it work—and is this the first of many?

Leicester, a city in England’s East Midlands, has been placed under local lockdown after it was found to have three times more covid-19 cases than the next highest city.1 The area accounted for around 10% of all positive cases in the country in the week leading up to the announcement on 29 June, with six to 10 hospital admissions a day, compared with around one at other NHS trusts.

What does a local lockdown mean in practice?

In this case, the city of Leicester and the surrounding urban areas have shut non-essential retail and closed schools to all but vulnerable children and children of critical workers. People have been advised to stay at home as much as possible and to maintain a physical distance of two metres when outside.

Meanwhile, local testing capacity has been increased. The additional measures will be reviewed at two weeks and will remain in place for as long as they are needed—although the criteria for relaxing the restrictions have not been made public. However, the police have said that they still need clarity from the government on their role in enforcing the restrictions.

Dave Stokes, Leicestershire Police Federation chair, said, “As we have seen over recent weeks and months, if the guidance and messaging from government is confusing for the public then it will be almost impossible for our colleagues to police.

“We still wait for confirmation on what our colleagues’ …

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