Hospitality Could Remain Closed Until July As Councils Granted Local Lockdown Powers

The Government has according to reports in the Telegraph extended coronavirus lockdown laws allowing local councils in England the power to close pubs/bars, restaurants, shops and public spaces until July 17

The law allowing local authorities to close or limit access to businesses and premises as well as outdoor spaces in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus was first introduced last July.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had set a mid-February target for lifting restrictions when announcing the third-national lockdown earlier this month, but on Friday the Government could not consider easing lockdown restrictions with infection rates at their current high levels, and until the vaccination programme is up and running.

The regulation, which applies to England only, was due to expire last week but has now looks set to be extended until July, near the date when school summer holidays begin.

This reported extension comes after Government scientists urged ministers to delay reopening of pubs until May to slow Covid spread.

A team of experts modelling the pandemic called for hospitality venues to remain closed until May, warning that reopening too quickly could have a “disastrous” effect.

Mark Harper, who chairs Coronavirus Recovery Group of Tory MPs, said the “extension will be of great concern to those worried about their jobs and businesses”. “Given the limited time allowed for debate this change in the law was little noticed,” said Mr Harper, whose group campaigns against what it sees as unnecessary restrictions.

“Once the top four risk groups have been vaccinated and fully protected by March 8, assuming the Government hits the February 15 deadline, the Government must start easing the restrictions.

“Vaccinations will of course bring immunity from Covid, but they must bring immunity from lockdowns and restrictions too.”