July 16, 2020 / 4:47 PM / 23 days ago

UK begins easing lockdown in COVID-19 hotspot Leicester

FILE PHOTO: A view of an empty street, following a local lockdown imposed amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Leicester, Britain, July 4, 2020. REUTERS/Jason Cairnduff//File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - The British government on Thursday eased lockdown restrictions imposed upon the COVID-19 hotspot of Leicester, but said the central English city was still suffering above-average infection rates and some restrictions must remain.

“We’re now in a position to relax some, but not all of the restrictions that were in place,” health minister Matt Hancock said.

The situation would be reviewed again in two weeks, he added.

Hancock said the seven-day average infection rate in the city at the end of June was 135 cases per 100,000 people, three times higher than anywhere else in Britain.

The latest data indicated it had fallen to 119 cases per 100,000, he said.

Hancock said restrictions on schools and non-essential retail would be lifted on July 24 in the city, but pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues, which reopened on July 4 elsewhere in England, would remain closed.

Reporting by Paul Sandle, editing by William James and Stephen Addison

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