New powers will allow council to close shops and enforce lockdown
- Credit: Archant
Councils have been given new powers to close shops, cancel events and shut outdoor public spaces to manage local outbreaks of coronavirus.
Councils across England received new powers from Saturday to force owners to shut pubs, cafés, shops and restaurants in areas hit by coronavirus outbreaks.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the Government would issue ‘stay-at-home orders’ where there are local outbreaks from next month.
These would stop people leaving defined areas and restrict public transport use until infection rates fall.
Mr Johnson said the move would enable councils to respond more quickly to outbreaks ‘where speed is paramount’.
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The Local Government Association said it hoped it would prevent the need for stricter local lockdown measures.
Deputy leader of North Somerset Council, Mike Bell said, the powers are ‘better late than never’.
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He said: “I’m pleased to see new powers for councils announced by Boris Johnson to tackle coronavirus at local level.
“It is disappointing that it has taken two months for this clarity to emerge, but the recognition that local council public health teams are best placed to manage this is better late than never.
“When North Somerset faced the challenge of the Weston Hospital coronavirus outbreak back in May, the lack of data and guidance from Government was alarming. We got through it, thanks to the hard work of NHS and council staff.”
Last month, councillor Bell said the Prime Minister’s repeated claims Weston was in a local lockdown were ‘damaging’.
Mr Johnson’s claims about Weston were brought up on James O’Brien’s LBC radio show when two Weston residents called in to state ‘there was no local lockdown’.
Leicester saw lockdown restrictions reimposed on June 29 after a spike in cases, although they will be partially lifted on Friday.
Cllr Bell added: “Colleagues in Leicester faced the introduction of a full local lockdown a few weeks ago.
“Again, the story was one of a lack of information and no clear rules to manage decisions. Regulations were rushed through Parliament to deal with it.
“I am sure we all appreciate the challenges of managing a pandemic situation, but the hallmark of this Government’s response has been a lack of urgency and of leadership. It hasn’t helped and may well have contributed to lost lives and lost livelihoods.”