It’s the outcome that nobody wanted, but which also seemed inevitable to happen at some point.
Boris Johnson has consistently mentioned localised lockdowns to help combat the spread of COVID-19 in areas of micro outbreaks, and that was the case in Leicester on Monday when it was revealed that the city will now go back into full isolation.
That means that all shops – barring those stocking ‘essential’ items – and schools will be shut down once more, and the planned reopening of pubs and restaurants on July 4 has been halted.
It will mean that punters won’t be able to get their selections on in the city’s betting shops, but the good news is that the show will go on as far as sport in Leicester is concerned – unless the Safety Advisory Group recommends otherwise.
That’s a timely boost, with Leicester City closing in on a Champions League place. They travel to Everton on Wednesday, and there is no suggestion that the game will be postponed.
As for Saturday’s home fixture against Crystal Palace, the health secretary Matt Hancock has said that the action will go ahead as planned – although premier League chief Richard Masters has since contradicted that somewhat by saying plans are in place to move the game to a neutral venue if required.
All Premier League clubs agreed as part of Project Restart that they would play at neutral venues if their home ground had been compromised in some way, and when quizzed on giving away the host’s advantage Brendan Rodgers – the City manager – said:
“It is something I am not really thinking of. It is all hypothetical at the moment. We will just continue with our work.”
He is on record as saying that his squad was safe, with all of the players living outside of the city’s reported ‘no go’ zone. The club’s training base is also three miles outside of the city, and only tested, essential staff have been granted access.
Leicester Racecourse Under Starter’s Orders
The situation at Leicester Racecourse is ‘fluid’, but as of Tuesday morning the British Horseracing Authority has confirmed that the track’s night meeting will go ahead as planned.
The course is located in the city’s outskirts of Oadby, which is one of the regions that features on the locked down zone map released by government officials.
Even so, the BHA has tweeted:
“Following confirmation from local health authorities that the race meeting should go ahead, the fixture at Leicester will take place today. The fixture will be held behind closed doors and with the existing strict health screening and social distancing measures in place.”
However, the future of racing at Leicester is unclear. Even though the action is taking place behind closed doors, the government has placed a ban on ‘all but essential’ travel into the East Midlands, which is likely to put a halt to racing for at the city track for the next fortnight.
It’s another bitter blow for the track, who lost six of their nine planned meetings over the winter period due to waterlogged or frozen ground. The hope is that their finances can survive another setback.