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The UK has been on lockdown to help slow the spread of the coronavirus since March 23.

The restrictions rolled out by Prime Minister Boris Johnson initially saw non-essential shops ordered closed, schools shuttered and Brits asked to stay at home and work from there as much as possible.

A recent easing in measures has since seen some students return to classrooms and swathes of businesses allowed to reopen, however, with a further relaxation now set to take effect in England on July 4.

But specific areas of the country could be put under lockdown again if coronavirus flares up locally, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has cautioned.

As part of that plan, Leicester was on Monday being ordered to endure another fortnight of lockdown in an attempt to quell a surge in Covid-19 cases in the city.

Here we look at what local lockdowns mean, how they will work, and the other steps the Government is taking to control the virus.

What are ‘local lockdowns’ and how do they work?

The Government will lock down specific areas in order to micro-target regional outbreaks and help stop the spread of the virus.

It will mean schools, businesses and workplaces could have to close down if an area sees a flurry of Covid-19 cases.

Announcing the plan in May, Mr Hancock said: “We will have local lockdowns in future where there are flare-ups and we have a system we are putting in place with a combination of Public Health England and the new joint bio-security centre, along with the local directors of public health who play an absolutely crucial role in the decision-making in the system to make sure if there is a local flare-up there is a local lockdown.”

“And so local lockdowns will be part of the future system that we put in place as part of the NHS test-and-trace system.”

Lockdown restrictions were first rolled out in March this year (AFP via Getty Images)

Is Leicester about to be locked down?

Leicester was on Monday being ordered to observe another two weeks of lockdown in an attempt to quell a local surge in coronavirus.

Health officials believe that at the very least the city will have to wait at least another fortnight without the freedoms set to be given to other areas on July 4.

That means the reopening of pubs and restaurants, cinemas and permission for dinner parties and sleepovers all being delayed locally.

Other measures – including the closure of non-essential stores that opened only two weeks ago and possible travel restrictions – are also being considered by officials.

But local civic leaders have hit out at what they branded an “over-reaction” to the spate of Covid-19 cases in the east of the city.

Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby told LBC on Monday he was “angry and frustrated” after a 9am meeting with government officials was postponed.

Mr Hancock was due to hold a video conference with Sir Peter and local health officials at lunchtime on Monday, when he was expected to make clear that legislation would be used to ensure measures are taken.

Mayor of Leicester insists he hasn’t seen data to show they need a local lockdown

What has the government said about easing lockdown?

The developments concerning Leicester come as the Government presses ahead with its plan to ease the Covid-19 lockdown gradually, having warned changes could be reversed if infection rates rise rapidly.

An initial relaxation of the restrictions in May saw Mr Johnson urge Brits who were unable to work from home to go back to their jobs, allow unlimited outdoor exercise and permit people to meet one person not from their household provided they met outdoors and maintained social distancing.

More recent changes, rolled out at the beginning of June, saw the Government reopen schools for all Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils and permit groups of six people to meet outdoors.

A later relaxation saw all non-essential shops permitted to reopen from June 15 onwards.

The most recent easing of lockdown measures is now set to take effect on July 4 and will see the 2m social distancing guidance change in England, with restaurants, pubs, cafes, hotels and other holiday accommodation businesses all permitted to reopen.

As part of the move, two households of any size will be able to meet indoors or outside in England and it will be possible for people to stay overnight at another person’s home.

Coronavirus in numbers: UK death toll at 43,550

What is the test, track and trace system?

Test, track and trace is a contact-tracing system that officials’ hope will help efforts to control the spread of coronavirus in the UK.

It aims to map the people that coronavirus sufferers come into contact with, so it can work out who else is at risk.

The Government has hired more than 20,000 human contact tracers to track the spread of Covid-19 throughout the UK.

Everyone who displays coronavirus symptoms will be asked to report to contact tracers under the scheme.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said the system will help keep Covid-19 “under control while carefully and safely lifting the lockdown nationally”.