Local councils given extra powers to deal with coronavirus outbreaks

Local Councils across England have been given extra measures to impose tighter controls if needed in response to a coronavirus outbreak.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said local authorities will have stronger controls to enable them to act more quickly in response to outbreaks.

Councils now have the power to shut down shops and cancel events in a move aimed at preventing local lockdowns like that seen in Leicester.

James Jamieson, chairman of the Local Government Association (LGA) which represents council leaders, believes this is the right way forward and hopes the new measures would prevent local lockdowns in future.

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Boris Johnson said: “Local authorities will have new powers in their areas. They will be able to close specific premises, shut public outdoor spaces and cancel events.”

“These powers will enable local authorities to act more quickly in response to outbreaks where speed is paramount.”

Ministers will also be given extra powers, to be laid out in more detail next week, enabling them to close factories and sectors of the economy in certain regions. It will also enable them to reintroduce bespoke stay-at-home orders.

Mr Jamieson said: “Locally-led responses have proven to be the best way to tackle significant outbreaks, which this framework rightly emphasises. Councils know their local communities best and know how to address each unique outbreak.”

He also said: “The use of enforcement powers should be an option of last resort”, and expressed the need for more “granular-level data” to be made available to councils, which will allow them to address and deal with increases in infection rates.

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