The city of Leicester has been in lockdown for the longest time out of any other area in the UK. But with recent restrictions for pubs and restaurants being relaxed, it’s understandable for many to be confused about the state of the Leicester lockdown. But this, along with rumours of a government announcement about the city itself, could be a signal for positive developments.
Sarah Harrison, the City Director for Leicester said: “It’s fantastic. It’s very welcome that businesses that have been prepared, are able to open their doors to customers once again.
“We have had very positive results and have been working with the businesses to ensure that they’ve got the covid-19 safety measures in place. There are also quite a few businesses that have chosen not to open yet so that they can invest in their establishments to make them better and safer.”
A number of restaurants across the city, however, have not been as lucky. There are some that have not managed to weather the storm and have ultimately closed down completely as a result of the devastating impact on the economy.
Sarah said: “We’ve heard recently that Leicester has been awarded £2.6million by the government, which is obviously less that we were asking for, which was £10million. This was the balance from the money that they gave us for the original business grant. Any money is welcomed but the other criteria attached to that hasn’t been mentioned yet, so we don’t know which businesses will benefit from that.
“As a council, we have put together a £500,000 support grant scheme, to encourage people to take cafe seating licenses, so that they can extend their floor plate by coming outside. We also are providing grants for all of the extra furniture that they’ll need for that.
“We have also given them loads of guidance and have been making sure they are well aware of all the rules and regulations so that they are able to open safely. We’ll also be running a marketing campaign to help the businesses. But at the moment, our message is to come out and enjoy yourselves, but be responsible, socially distance and keep actively safe.”
“Being realistic, of course we are going to see some businesses that don’t reopen, but on a positive side, we’ve got a lot of new business enquiries—there’s a lot of people interested in taking space in Leicester.
“For the reopening of the night-time economy, we have a lot of measures in place to keep people safe and secure. Our control room in City Hall is open so we can keep an eye on all of the businesses and respond accordingly to any issues. We have event stewards on duty that will not only be meeting and greeting people, they’ll be ensuring people keep socially distanced and stay safe. Our CCTV room is up and running as normal, and the area traffic control. We also have fantastic support from the police and we feel that people will feel very reassured when people come out and they see that we have all of these measures in place to keep them safe.”
By Sam Ellison