Leeds Public Health Director explains why Leeds has been put in local lockdown
Leeds looks set to enter a local lockdown from midnight tonight, with potential fines in place for anyone visiting another person’s house.
Both the council’s leader and chief executive gave a stark picture of life in the coming months, as Leeds is expected to remain within the measures “for as long as it takes” – which could mean until Spring 2021.
While this throws Christmas plans for families in the city into doubt, the authority said it simply didn’t know whether the measures will remain in place for the festive season.
According to the new rules, expected to be formally announced by the Government later today, it will be illegal for one household to visit another in their own houses. Any breach of this rule will come with a fine.
The authority also said households should not be meeting outdoors either, although this is simply advice and not enforceable by law.
The measures come as Leeds is seeing its highest infection rate since national lockdown restrictions were eased during the summer.
Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake said: “We are in a time of fast changes that affect us all – medical officers have agreed that we are seeing the beginning of a second wave.
“We have not had a formal announcement from Government yet, but we have the expectation that we will be asked to move into a different category – our understanding is that we will be moved into an area of intervention.
“We will see more household restrictions in line with those in Bradford, Kirklees and Calderdale.”
The meeting heard how Leeds’s seven-day rolling infection rate had risen to just under 100 per 100,000 – a threshold that triggered lockdown measures in other local authority areas around the country.
“There are cases across the city – no area is exempt from infections,” she added.
“Our concern is that the compliance has not been enough in some cases – that is partly because the message has been confusing so far.
“We need to ensure people know what is expected of them and they want to comply for their personal safety.”
The council’s chief executive Tom Riordan said that although exemptions for social distancing exist around areas like caring, children with parents living apart and existing social bubbles, the message is for households to avoid mixing in person wherever possible.
Leeds City Council’s director of public health Victoria Eaton said: “Restrictions will be in place for a longer period of time, potentially throughout the winter.
“There is no formal announcement on timescale, it is potentially until March or April time, but that is not confirmed. It will be as long as it is needed, but it’s likely that will last for several months.”
On the question of whether this would mean families and friends can mix in each other’s houses this Christmas, Mr Riordan said: “We don’t know how long these restrictions will last. People in Leeds will do everything they can to make sure we can meet loved ones and have a Christmas we can remember fondly.
“If we all do the right thing, we have a better chance of that.”
The government is yet to provide further details on the lockdown will work in Leeds but, as these are expected to be in line with the rules in place in Bradford – this link should provide useful information as to what rules and exemptions Leeds can expect to see.