17 Jul Coronavirus: Councils to get powers to shut down businesses and cancel events, says PM | Politics News
Local councils will be able to shut down businesses and cancel events and government ministers will be able to restrict travel to and from certain areas under new powers.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the action at a Downing Street news conference on Friday as he set out the latest stage of the UK’s coronavirus response.
This included an updated roadmap for lifting remaining lockdown restrictions, with bowling alleys, ice-skating rinks, casinos and close contact beauty treatments allowed to resume from 1 August.
The government is also aiming to restart indoor performances from next month, while there will also be trials of larger gatherings in places like sports stadiums “with a view to a wider reopening in the autumn”, Mr Johnson said.
Wedding receptions for up to 30 people will also be allowed, but nightclubs and soft play areas will remain closed.
The prime minister also announced, from 1 August, there would be updated government’s advice on people going to work.
“Instead of government telling people to work from home, we are going to give employers more discretion, and ask them to make decisions about how their staff can work safely,” he said.
“That could mean of course continuing to work from home, which is one way of working safely and which has worked for many employers and employees.
“Or it could mean making workplaces safe by following COVID-secure guidelines.”
On public transport, Mr Johnson said: “From today we are making clear that anybody may use public transport, while of course encouraging people to consider alternative means of transport where they are available.”
The prime minister expressed his hope that the government would be able to review outstanding restrictions and “allow a more significant return to normality from November at the earliest, possibly in time for Christmas”.
Outlining the new powers for councils to enforce local lockdowns, the prime minister said: “From tomorrow 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.
“Action by local councils will not always be sufficient, so next week we’ll 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.”