Coronavirus: Councils to get new shutdown powers


Councils in England will get new powers to shut premises and public places, and cancel events in an effort to deal with coronavirus, Boris Johnson has said.

The measures will come into force on Saturday.

The prime minister also announced that central government would be able to issue “stay-at-home orders” where there are local outbreaks.

These would prevent people leaving defined areas and restrict their use of public transport.

During a Downing Street press briefing, Mr Johnson announced the government’s next range of measures aimed at restarting the economy while keeping the coronavirus infection rate down.

He said employers would get more discretion over asking people to return to workplaces, while indoor performance events would restart from August.

  • PM outlines lockdown easing for England
  • PM sets out plan for ‘back to normal by Christmas’

Mr Johnson said greater powers for local authorities would enable them “to act more quickly in response to outbreaks where speed is paramount”.

He added: “Action by local councils will not always be sufficient, so next week we will publish draft regulations on 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 size of gatherings beyond the national defined rules or restrict transport systems serving local areas.”


By Jessica Parker, political correspondent

A more localised approach, when it comes to tackling Covid, has been used now for some time.

But Boris Johnson is also signalling a tougher approach: new powers for councils and for ministers as well.

One of those powers for central government is quite striking: the ability to prevent people entering or leaving defined areas.

As efforts to get the economy going mean the lockdown is loosening overall, the government’s trying to tighten its ability to crack down on local outbreaks.

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