LEADERS in Kendal and the South Lakes have welcomed the government allowing local coronavirus lockdowns in hotspots.

Newsquest’s News & Star chief reporter Phil Coleman put a question to Health Secretary Matt Hancock in Tuesday’s government briefing.

The Carlisle-based reporter asked if the government would allow local lockdowns in areas such as the Lake District.

With some experts - including Cumbrian health chiefs - fearful of a second wave of coronavirus infections, there are concerns that a flood of returning visitors – especially to the Lake District – could potentially fuel a fresh surge in infections.

Mr Hancock said he was aware of particular problems with Covid-19 ‘flare-ups’ in some areas.

He said: “The short answers is yes; we will have local lockdowns in future where there are flare-ups and we have a system that we’re putting in place with a combination of Public Health England and the New Joint Biosecurity Centre along with the local directors of public health, who play an absolutely crucial role in the decision making in this system to make sure if there is a local flare-up, we have a local lockdown.”

Professor John Newton pointed out that different parts on the country face different considerations, with some areas - including Cumbria - facing considerably higher infection rates than elsewhere.

He said: “The Lake District is a very special place: it has a lot of visitors and it has a lot of open space and it’s difficult to reach parts of it.”

Kendal’s mayor, Councillor Alvin Finch, welcomed Mr Hancock’s comments.

“I do believe (a local lockdown) will help, if it’s needed, without a shadow of a doubt,” he said.

“We have been worried about people travelling up to the Lakes; not just for our own safety but also for theirs.

“We are slowly starting to turn the corner but if we need to lock down pockets then we should.

“But how that would be done is a tricky one.”

Cllr Finch was also keen to praise Kendal, and the wider South Lakes, for their response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The people have dealt with it fantastically, especially in Kendal, they have stuck to the guidelines,” he said.

“We can all beat this but we have to do it together. It takes everybody to abide by the rules but we can beat this.”