Local authorities now have the power to impose regional lockdowns - here's how it will work

Friday, 17th July 2020, 12:55 pm
Updated Friday, 17th July 2020, 12:55 pm
(Photo: Darren Staples/Getty Images)

Speaking at the latest 10 Downing Street press conference on 17 July, Boris Johnson has outlined his government's plan for the further easing of lockdown restrictions in England.

The next significant steps for easing lockdown in England will begin on 1 August, and include the reopening of bowling alleys, skating rinks, casinos, and beauticians.

The Prime Minister also laid out his plans for giving local authorities more powers for implementing local lockdowns.

In recent weeks, a number of localised outbreaks of Covid-19 have caused concern. On 29 June, Leicester became the first area of the UK to have a local lockdown imposed upon it.

The government says it is seeking to "carefully replace national lockdown with targeted local action.”

It will do this under the new CONTAIN Framework, published today, which sets out how local authorities and the national Government will work together to manage local outbreaks. However, the government does state that local lockdowns "will remain a last resort when other actions have been insufficient."

How does the CONTAIN Framework work?

From Saturday 18 July, local authorities have the ability to close specific premises, close public outdoor spaces and cancel events. These new powers are designed to enable local authorities to act more quickly in response to outbreaks, where speed is paramount to prevent coronavirus from spreading more widely.

Use of these powers will be subject to the necessary appeal routes and oversight structures, to ensure they are used appropriately.

The measures should allow for effective targeted intervention, while seeking to avoid a return to a national lockdown.

But, in the event the Government does need to make an intervention, its aim would be to do so only in a way that targets virus transmission while minimising the disruption to the economy and society.

What else is the government doing?

The government also plans to increase local health protection teams to provide local authorities with additional expertise. It says it will provide increased data and insight through Public Health England and the Joint Biosecurity Centre to aid local decision makers.

It says these measures, coupled with NHS Test and Trace, will allow effective targeted action to help manage local outbreaks, "thereby contributing to a reduction in the likelihood of needing broader national interventions."

"We are ensuring data is shared with local authorities so they can make informed decisions about the action which may be necessary,” said the government.

"All upper tier local authorities now have access to daily, postcode-level data on case numbers, testing numbers and relevant information from NHS 111 and 999 calls for their area.

"The total number of cases identified and the Covid-19 rate is publicly available at national, upper tier local authority and lower tier local authority level on the gov.uk Covid-19 dashboard."