'Disappointment is an understatement'

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 30th June 2020

With infection rates three times higher than anywhere else in the country, Leicester is in effect being forced back into lockdown.

Shops and schools will be closed, and the planned reopening of restaurants, bars and pubs this Saturday 4th July with the rest of the country are to be put on hold for at least two weeks, at which point, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the measures could be reviewed.

Director and managing director of the Chutney Ivy Shaf Islam told the BBC's Today programme. : "I woke up yesterday morning with a real spring in my step because of the preparations we were doing for reopening for the fourth of July." 

Upon hearing the news, he said: "I got a text from the local newspaper to ask my opinion, 'what do you think, there may be a further lockdown.' 

Shining a light on what could happen to restaurants up and down the country should they be forced back into a 'local lockdown,' he said: "To say that it was a huge disappointment is probably an understatement," he said, having unfurloughed staff, set up the restaurant with social distancing in mind and bought in supplies.

Whereas the restaurant had been trading throughout the lockdown, offering a delivery service, others likely will have prepared to reopen from total closure. 

"The help from the government has been brilliant up to that, but we realised that the money wasn't a bottomless pit. We probably had about four or five weeks of trading left where we would have run out of money - with the grant and everything else that we received. It made business sense to trade at 20-30 percent of what we were normally doing." 

Senior clinical lecturer at the university of Exeter Dr Bharat Pankhania said the newly-imposed lockdown was "a reflection of premature lifting of lockdown measures," and, hoe said, "in the first instance our lockdown measures were not strict enough. 

"Where you have a background level of circulating virus, plus a succeptible population, they're all sitting targets."

"Once you start circulating in larger numbers, it is inevitable that these things happen." 

Calling the decision of where to draw the line between locked down and slightly eased "a tough call," he said: "It's well well well overdue that we need to have local control over local outbreaks, because going forward - six months, eight months from today, we will have such outbreaks in Manchester, Birmingham, other big cities, therefore it is better to oil this machine - local infection - and rather than have centralised testing and contact tracing, we need that locally, because local people are very good at knowing what local nuances are." 

He added that the current momentum of extensive testing is being done centrally, "therefore we are handicapping what we already have as existing experts who could do it from the ground in Leicester." 

In Michelin-starred chef owner of Salt, in Stratford-Upon-Avon, jokingly Tweeted that people of Leicester could still make 'an essential journey' to Barnard Castle - where the government's chief advisor allegedly drove to 'test his eyesight' at the height of lockdown. 


Others have ventured that with pubs reopening on Saturday, residents of Leicester might be tempted to drive out of the city to visit open establishments, risking further spread of the virus.

No official map of where the lockdown applies has yet been published by Public Health England, but we will add to this article as and when it is.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 30th June 2020

'Disappointment is an understatement'