Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced in his statement on Coronavirus today (July 17) that local authorities will have new powers to enforce measures to limit the spread of the virus in their area.
From tomorrow (July 18), local councils will be able to close specific premises, shut public outdoor spaces and cancel events to speed up the response to a local outbreak and contain the spread.
Following a local lockdown in Leicester, which saw the percentage of people testing positively fall from a weekly rate of 12.2% to 4.8%, new framework will enable national and local Government to work more closely together to implement this in other areas if needs be.
Central Government will also have a role to play, with part of his speech highlighting:
“Action by local councils will not always be sufficient. So next week we will publish draft regulations which clearly set out how central government can intervene more effectively at a local level.
“Where justified by the evidence, ministers will be able to close whole sectors or types of premises in an area, introduce local “stay at home” orders, prevent people entering or leaving defined areas, reduce the maximum size of gatherings beyond national rules, or restrict transport systems serving local areas.”
He also announced an addition £3bn of funding for the NHS and vowed to increase testing capacity to at least half a million antigen tests a day by October, in order to further protect the population as we approach winter.
The Prime Minister drew the speech to a close by saying that despite the easing of lockdown measures, they would ‘not hesitate’ to put the brakes on if the infection rate increases:
“Hoping for the best, but planning for the worst – and it’s in that spirit that we must carry on waging this long, hard fight against Coronavirus.”
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