Oldham council leader Sean Fielding has warned that it will be “catastrophic and premature” if the town goes back into lockdown with businesses being closed down again. The Greater Manchester borough has recorded 266 cases of coronavirus for the week ending August 11, which is its highest number since the beginning of the pandemic. Health Secretary Matt Hancock was confronted with questions over whether he would order a local shutdown similar to Leicester on Times Radio.
The minister told listeners: “There is a big challenge in Oldham, the numbers are clear about that.
“Oldham of course is part of Greater Manchester which already has measures in place.
“Not a full local lockdown, but measures in place to try to control the spread of the virus.
“We see from what’s happened in Leicester over the past few weeks that where we put a local lockdown in place, it then has been effective.”
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He continued: “Now we’ve been able to announce yesterday that Leicester is coming out of most, not all but most of the local lockdown measures because the numbers are under control.
“Obviously that has had a huge impact on the people of Leicester including businesses.
“Of course I regret that in the way that I regret a huge amount of the impact of what we’ve had to do to tackle the virus.
“But we will do what is necessary and we’ll work very closely with the council, who’ve also got a really important part to play in this.”
The latest figures from Public Health England show Oldham has the third highest rate of cases in the country.
Leicester was forced into a lockdown extension for over a month as the rest of the country was allowed to ease restrictions.
This was due to a significant spike in positive coronavirus infections, including 866 new cases in just two weeks.
Mr Hancock announced that many outdoor activities and beauty salons are now allowed to reopen in the Midlands city after a drop in infections.
The Government has said it will review the Leicester lockdown restrictions again by the end of the month.