Leicester garment factories close amid COVID-19 surge

Fashion retailers Leicester

Five garment factories in Leicester have reportedly been closed amid a surge in COVID-19 cases in the city and there is risk more may be forced to shut down temporarily.

Last night Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that the city would be placed back into lockdown as it was showing an infection rate of three times the national average. Non-essential retail has been ordered to close from today for at least two weeks, when the decision will be reviewed.

The Mirror has reported that five garment manufacturers have been forced to close having re-opened during the lockdown.

The newspaper has reported that when some factories closed during lockdown, workers went to others in search of work and carried the infection with them. One factory had 20 cases including the owner.

Saeed Khilji, chairman of the Textile Manufacturers Association of Leicestershire told The Mirror: “There are many cases among the garment manufacturers. A number of manufacturers have had to close down operations.

“If the council thinks it is necessary then we will support closing all factories for two to three weeks to contain the outbreak.”

Mary Creagh, the former MP for Wakefield and former chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, which last year carried out a major probe into the ethics and sustainability of the UK fashion industry, Tweeted the story describing conditions in some factories as ‘brutal”.

There are around 1,500 textile manufacturing businesses in Leicester and Leicestershire employing around 10,000 staff.

Speaking last night when he announced the anticipated local lockdown, Hancock said: “Having taken clinical advice on the actions necessary and discussed them with the local team in Leicester and Leicestershire, we have made some difficult but important decisions.

“We’ve decided that from [today 30 June], non-essential retail will have to close and as children have been particularly impacted by this outbreak, schools will also need to close from Thursday, staying open for vulnerable children and children of critical workers as they did throughout.

“Unfortunately, the clinical advice is that the relaxation of shielding measures due on 6 July cannot now take place in Leicester.

We recommend to people in Leicester, stay at home as much as you can, and we recommend against all but essential travel to, from and within Leicester.”

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