local lockdown

Restrictions Could be Reintroduced Locally After “Freedom Day” to Deal With New Variants, Says Sajid Javid

We have been assured that our unlocking will be “irreversible” – that July 19th is the “terminus date” for Covid restrictions (in England, at least). These words would be comforting if only they were matched by Government action. Alas, laws allowing local authorities to bring back restrictions on businesses and social contact in case of Covid outbreaks or – of course – new variants are being kept at least until the end of September, Sajid Javid has confirmed. The i has the story.

Ministers will retain laws that allow local authorities to shut down businesses, prohibit certain events, or close outdoor public spaces “in case of a local breakout” or in case a new dangerous variant emerges, the Health Secretary told MPs.

“We will be keeping in place contingency measures, particularly for local authorities, the so-called Number Three regulations, at least until the end of September, in case those powers are needed in the case of a local breakout,” Mr Javid told the Commons.

He added: “Of course there’s no intention at this point that those powers will be used but we believe it is necessary to have powers in place just in case.

“You would have heard me earlier talk about the risk that still exists from new variants and that is the plan.”

The so-called Number Three laws were first introduced in July 2020 to give local authorities the power to respond to “a serious and imminent threat” to public health by managing Covid transmission.

They form a patchwork of legislation that was used to govern local lockdowns in the second half of 2020.

But Boris Johnson decided to scrap the approach and impose another national lockdown in England in January after a series of painful negotiations over restrictions with local leaders like Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham.

Worth reading in full.

“Danger of Unrest” in Bolton If Local Lockdown Imposed Because of Indian Covid Variant, Council Leader Warns

Ministers met on Tuesday to discuss emergency plans that could see local lockdown restrictions being imposed in Indian Covid variant “hotspots”, with Boris Johnson saying that things will be clearer in “days“. But the Leader of Bolton Council has warned that there is a “danger of unrest” if local restrictions are used in the area. Sky News has the story.

David Greenhalgh, a Conservative and head of the local authority, said that previous implementations of the coronavirus measures were ineffective in the region.

Speaking to the BBC’s Today programme, Mr Greenhalgh was asked if it was true he had warned Health Secretary Matt Hancock about civil unrest in the event of local Covid restrictions.

The councillor said: “I do think there is a danger of unrest.

“There was a great deal of resentment. Bolton was… disproportionately affected, really since July last year, and even when our rates were coming down, we still remained in lockdown when other areas rates were higher than ours.”

Bolton is currently one of the hotspots of the Indian variant of the coronavirus.

Cases have doubled in the last week, and 19 people are in hospital, according to Mr Hancock.

Mr Greenhalgh added: “We are putting all the measures in that we can at the moment. We have community spread, there’s no doubt about that, and we’re holding back a variant that would appear – although the evidence is still being gathered – to be a little bit more transmissible, easily transmissible.

“The majority of our cases are in very much our younger age groups – primary school, secondary school and in their 20s.

“We still haven’t got an increase in hospitalisation and severe illness, which is hugely welcome, those figures still remain low.”

As Will Jones highlighted in an earlier post, the number of Covid cases in Bolton – as well as in Blackburn with Darwen, another Indian variant hotspot – already seems to be flattening.

The Sky News report is worth reading in full.