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Bitterness in Leicester, the first British city to be reconfigured

(Leicester) “It is against liberties”. Will Horspool doesn’t mince words, bitter as many Leicesterers see this city in the center of England become the first to go back in deconfinement due to an outbreak of new coronavirus.

Pauline FROISSART

France Media Agency

The shock was severe for the city, which was preparing like the rest of England to reopen pubs, restaurants, cinemas and hairdressing salons on Saturday. Instead, non-essential stores must lower their curtains on Tuesday and most schools will close on Thursday.

Will Horspool, 35 years old, was impatient to find a semblance of normalcy this weekend. “I wanted to drink a beer in a local pub”. Alas, he had to cancel and plans to go to a cafe in a nearby town, spared the new measures.

Faced with a decision he considers “authoritarian”, he predicts a return of the “speakeasies”, these illegal bars during prohibition: “People don't want to be controlled”.

Dharmesh Lakhani, director of Bobby's restaurant, which employs 20 people, was also preparing to reopen, with measures prevention measures: customers two meters away from each other, employees using masks and hydroalcoholic gel.

“Eight kilometers north, the restaurants are open, how are you going to keep people from going there?” He asked, implying that the new measures will not prevent the virus from circulating.

Leicester, city of some 340 00 0 inhabitants and whose agglomeration concerned by the reconfinement counts more than 600 00 0 inhabitants, number approximately 10% of all cases identified in the country last week.

There have been 944 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the city in the past two weeks, said the municipal council.

“I am a nurse and I have seen cases increase”, said AFP Manuela, 30 years old , mask on the face, questioned in a downtown street with many closed shops.

“People don't take the subject seriously”, she regrets. “They don't wear masks in stores,” she said, pointing to the strollers around her.

Although the Minister of Health, Matt Hancock, encouraged the population to stay at home “as much as possible”, many residents roam the city center, some with their faces covered, others not, with long queues outside the banks.

Signs encourage people to “stay healthy”, reminding them to wash their hands thoroughly and keep their distance from each other.

“Painful” measures

During a press conference, the mayor Peter Soulsby said “very concerned about the well-being of the city in general and the health of the inhabitants, but also about the economy” .

Even if the new measures will be “painful” for the city, there is however a “realistic prospect that they will be effective”, underlines the aile.

The mayor is however asking for more information to determine the precise location of the cases and to know “in which districts” and even “which streets”, the virus struck.

The reasons for the recent increase in cases in the city, including among children, remain unclear. The Sunday Times spoke of contamination in food factories and crowds around takeaway restaurants.

The announcement of a reconfiguration in Leicester is particularly bad for Prime Minister Boris Johnson who unveiled on Tuesday his “New Deal” to revive the British economy, which collapsed due to the epidemic of new coronavirus.

The Labor opposition accuses him of having delayed reacting to the outbreak of cases in Leicester.

The conservative leader was already very criticized for his management of the pandemic, which made more 43 00 0 dead in the United Kingdom, the most affected country in Europe.

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