UK: “Why Did It Take So Long To Shut Us Down?” Leicester Jewish Leader Asks

Leicester Hebrew Congregation (Facebook)

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There has been a surge of coronavirus cases in the city of Leicester, England – about a two-hour drive north of London – in recent weeks and UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced a lockdown of the city last week, including a closure of the city’s schools

Anthony Jacobs, a leader of the Jewish community in Leicester and chairman of the Hebrew Congregation led by Chabad Rabbi Shmuli Pink, slammed the government for its slow response to the outbreak, saying that the lockdown came much too late.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if this lockdown didn’t go on for a month or more, because I can’t see how they’re going to judge in two or three weeks whether things have calmed down sufficiently,” Jacobs told Jewish News last week.

“They don’t seem to be on top of it. Leicester has been talked about for 11 days. Why did it take that long to shut us down? They needed to shut us down on Day 2 to stop it spreading.”

The Hebrew Congregation, which serves about 100 families, had planned to reopen by July 25 but that seems unlikely now in light of the outbreak.

“So long as it’s safe to reopen, we will be able to,” said Jacobs. “The issue is, not everyone is going to want to come back. Plenty are still shielding. The Chief Rabbi’s advice is that there should be no pressure to come to shul. As a community, we’re very conscious of doing the right thing, and we will.”

Jacobs added that he wasn’t surprised by the outbreak in the city. “We all knew it was coming. There are lots of ethnic groups that have not necessarily understood the message about social distancing and keeping to one’s selves. It has spread because of that, I think.”

“There is an area in Leicester like the Golders Green Road, where all the shops are. It is absolutely full of youngsters most of the time – and it still is. Not everybody is wearing masks. It doesn’t need much of an excuse to spread, this virus.”

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)