Boris Johnson announces new powers for local authorities in ‘return to normal’

Prime minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street. Picture: Andrew Parsons/10 D

Prime minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street. Picture: Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA Wire - Credit: Archant

From Saturday, local authorities will have new powers to tackle coronavirus outbreaks – including closing specific premises, shutting outdoor spaces and cancelling events.

Announcing a shift from national restrictions, Boris Johnson said the UK is now focused on localised lockdowns.

At a Downing Street press briefing this morning, Mr Johnson said: “National lockdown was undoubtedly the right thing to do and has saved many thousands of lives.

“Now, however, we know more about the virus, we understand the epidemiology better and our intelligence about where it is spreading is vastly improved. That means we can control it through targeted local action instead.”

He said new local authority powers will enable them 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 will publish draft regulations on how central government can intervene more effectively at a local level,” he added.

The new powers will allow councils and ministers to close specific premises, shut down outdoor space, and cancel local events.

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Boris Johnson has also unveiled a slew of new freedoms from August 1. Most remaining leisure centres, including bowling alleys, will be allowed to reopen – while indoor performances with live audiences will begin to be allowed, subject to trials and safety measures.

Trials will also begin for larger gatherings in places such as sports stadiums “with a view to a wider reopening in the autumn”.

Mr Johnson said: “From August 1, we will reopen most remaining leisure settings, namely bowling, skating rings, casinos and we will enable close contact services, beauticians to resume.

“Nightclubs, soft play areas - sadly - need to remain closed for now, although this will be kept under review.”

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