This Is What It's Like To Own A Business In Leicester's Lockdown Zone

Chris York
People walk in Melton Road also known as the Golden Mile in Leicester, England.

Shaf Islam says he woke up on Monday with a spring in his step.

The owner of Chutney Ivy, a fine dining Indian restaurant in Leicester, had a busy few days ahead as he got ready to reopen at the weekend just like other establishments across England as part of the coronavirus lockdown easing.

“I was getting the restaurant ready, moving furniture around, ordering screens, masks and visors,” he told HuffPost UK. “I was looking forward to the week and then we got a phone call at 9am asking if I knew the restaurant might not be able to open.”

Islam’s restaurant is in the city centre and so falls in the area being kept under existing lockdown restrictions as authorities battle to get the local coronavirus outbreak under control.

Rising numbers of cases in the East Midlands city – 10% 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 advised against all but essential travel.

“In March we suffered an earthquake and this has been a very delayed aftershock,” Islam added. “I think it’s very unfair, we’re almost being used as a guinea pig in Leicester.”

Countless bars, restaurants, cafes and hairdressers must remain shut for at least two weeks even as those elsewhere in the country welcome guests for the first time in months on Saturday.

Stephen Hoskins, owner of The Ale Wagon, had decided opening on a weekend would be “mayhem” so was planning on waiting until Tuesday. A takeaway service over the last few weeks has just about kept him afloat but...

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