Businesses are scrambling to assess the impact of a local lockdown on Leicester due to a surge in Covid-19 cases.
The East Midlands city has experienced a spike in infections in recent weeks and current lockdown restrictions are expected to be extended there for a further two weeks, meaning pubs, bars, cinemas and restaurants will remain shut instead of being allowed to open on Saturday as planned.
The government is also understood to be considering tougher measures including the closure of non-essential stores that opened only two weeks ago and possible travel restrictions to prevent the spread of the disease.
The area’s status as a key manufacturing and logistics hub for the country could make the extended lockdown an issue for businesses, with staff absenteeism due to the virus a potential problem.
Natalie Chapman, head of urban policy, at the Freight Transport Association, said: “We will need to understand the full scope of what a lockdown in Leicester would look like, as the region is a key logistics hub for not just the East Midlands but the rest of the UK.
“However, the classification of logistics workers as “essential” at the start of the pandemic should ensure that they have access to the distribution centres and vehicles which are so vital to our daily lives.”
James Wroath, chief executive of logistics giant Wincanton, which has some smaller operations in Leicestershire, was not concerned by the potential upheaval. “We have dealt with the whole country being in lockdown and provided an essential service with new social distancing protocols - regionally or nationally these protocols will continue to work,” he told the Standard.
Separately, Wincanton today announced it had won a lucrative contract to help run the logistics for Waitrose's online operations from a warehouse in west London. The upmarket grocer has seen a huge spike in demand for its online grocery services since the country went into lockdown in March.