Martin Ford 23 October 2020

Councils gain COVID enforcement powers

Councils are to gain new powers to issue businesses with improvement notices and close premises if they breach coronavirus restrictions.

Health secretary Matt Hancock told the House of Commons the Government will work on detailed proposals with councils in the coming days.

He said the aim was to create ‘stronger regulations to give local authorities further powers to take action’.

Mr Hancock added: ‘The proposals we will bring forward will mean councils will be able to act without delay and use closure notices to shut premises on public health grounds, to help suppress the virus.’

Councils currently have to resort to general health and safety legislation in order to take action against businesses flouting COVID-19 restrictions.

Individual councils have appealed for powers to issue fixed penalty notices, currently only available to the police, while the Local Government Association previously asked for compliance with social distancing measures to be included in licensing laws as a temporary measure.

Chair of the LGA’s safer and stronger communities board, Cllr Nesil Caliskan, said: ‘Ensuring councils have a range of tools at their disposal will allow them to work quickly to help suppress the virus in their communities and take action before it is too late.'

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