Local government gains extra powers to control Covid-19 spread

The Government has granted local authorities across England, additional powers to stop local transmission of the virus. 


These new powers will allow councils to restrict local public gatherings and events, and close local shops and outdoor spaces.


Health Secretary Matt Hancock said:


“We’re setting out a new framework and local powers to further help local leaders across England protect their communities from coronavirus. They have the full support of NHS Test and Trace alongside these new powers and will receive help with specific interventions, including additional testing as needed, to prevent the transmission of the virus in their community.”


Local authorities experiencing spikes in coronavirus cases will continue to work with NHS Test and Trace, developing incident management plans and leading on local interventions to stop transmission where required.


The Government said “the interventions they take will be closely monitored and issues escalated for further action to a national level if they have not led to a significant reduction in cases.”


Leicester was the first city to go into local lockdown and has been under tighter restrictions since 29 June.  Local restrictions are set to ease in some areas from 24 July.


However, City Mayor of Leicester Peter Soulsby accused the government of “playing silly games” with its local lockdown.


The Local Government Association said it hoped the need for tighter lockdown restrictions would be avoided.


The move comes after the prime minister addressed Friday’s Downing Street press briefing that “lightning lockdowns” would allow local authorities “to act more quickly in response to outbreaks where speed is paramount”.