Great Britain

New lockdown restrictions may not be enough to halt coronavirus, warns Leeds council leader

New lockdown measures which have come into force this week may not be enough to halt coronavirus without even further restrictions, the leader of one of the country’s biggest cities has warned.

Ministers hope that the so-called rule of six and a 10pm curfew for restaurants and pubs will help drive down infection rates when combined with tighter localised measures in hard hit areas.

But Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said on Saturday morning that the restrictions may not go far enough.

"If things carry on the way they are then I can't see how the government won't be forced to take more measures that have more of an impact on our lives, on our ability to go out and do the things we need to do to keep the economy going,” she said.

She spoke out as her own city became the latest part of the country placed into a tightened lockdown with different households there banned from meeting in private homes or gardens.

In total, an estimated quarter of the UK’s population are now living in areas with extra measures. They include the north east and much of the north west of England, parts of the Midlands, a large swathe of Yorkshire, chunks of South Wales and Scotland, and the whole of Northern Ireland.

Councillor Blake said: “We know that the restrictions themselves won't just work on their own, it has to come as part of a whole raft of measures.

"The important message that we know from other areas is there is a lot of confusion, a lack of clarity, particularly in areas where there are different rules in one borough and the next-door borough has another one.

“This has to be a wake up call to people.”

Speaking to the BBC, she added: “"What we are also saying to Government is we need more local testing capacity, trying to get across to government that if they give us the resource to do things locally we can do a much better job than a national programme run outside the city."

The Labour leader said that she was working with the city's five universities amid concerns the arrival of thousands of students was exacerbating infection rates but said it was difficult because the youngsters inevitably wanted to socialise.

She added: "This is difficult, students arriving in Leeds for the first time, they don't know people here so they are obviously going to want to mix and socialise.”

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