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Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said the Government will change the law to enforce the local lockdown in Leicester.

Harsher restrictions are coming into force in Leicester following a surge in the number of coronavirus cases in the city.

Non-essential shops will be closed from Tuesday, the day Prime Minister Boris Johnson looks to shift focus to the recovery from the pandemic with a multi-billion pound “new deal” for infrastructure projects.

Rising numbers of cases in the East Midlands city – 10 per cent of all positive cases in the country over the past week – mean the planned easing of restrictions on Saturday will not take place, with people have been advised against all but essential travel.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said Leicester’s seven-day infection rate was 135 cases per 100,000 – three times that of the next highest city. He added that a number of cases were seen among under-18s.

Leicester is the first local lockdown in the UK (AFP via Getty Images)

While the exact area impacted is not expected to be made clear until later on Tuesday, Mr Hancock said Leicester and the surrounding conurbation including Oadby, Birstall and Glenfield would be included.

The Health secretary told Sky News: “We will be bringing forward a legal change very shortly, in the next couple of days, because some of the measures that we’ve unfortunately had to take in Leicester will require legal underpinning.”

Mr Hancock said “in some cases” the lockdown would be enforced by the police, while legal changes would be made so non-essential retail is no longer open.

When pressed on how people would be stopped from travelling outside the city, he said: “We’re recommending against all but essential travel both to and from and within Leicester, and as we saw during the peak, the vast majority of people will abide by these rules.

“Of course we will take further action including putting in place laws if that is necessary but I very much hope it won’t be.”

10% of the country’s positive cases in the past week were in Leicester (Getty Images)

Health Secretary Matt Hancock defended the Government’s “whack-a-mole” strategy for tackling outbreaks.

“The strategy is to allow for the opening up of the rest of the country, giving people their freedoms back where it is safe to do so,” he told Sky News.

“But we also need alongside that to take local action where there is a specific flare-up.”

Mr Hancock also said there had been “a number of positive cases in the under-18s” detected through coronavirus testing in Leicester.

“That’s why we took the decision, with a heavy heart it has to be said, to close schools in Leicester and in Leicestershire, within the Leicester conurbation.”