Local authorities will be given the power to bulldoze trains, cars, buses and aeroplanes if approved by the magistrates. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has handed local councils a broad range of powers to contain COVID-190 outbreaks as soon as they are detected in his bid to stop the nation being shutdown for a second time.
Under the Government’s COVID-19 Contain Framework, councils will be given the authority to draw on six separate Acts of Parliament to ban events, order mass coronavirus testing and enforce the lightning closure of public buildings.
They will also have the power to limit travel to key workers only and limit school openings.
The document, published by the Department of Health and Social Care, tells councils, under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, they can apply to a magistrate “to impose restrictions or requirements to close contaminated premises; close public spaces in the area of the local authority; detain a conveyance or movable structure; disinfect or decontaminate premises; or order that a building, conveyance or structure be destroyed”.
Councils have been handed powers to demolish buildings at the centre of coronavirus outbreaks
UK coronavirus cases mapped
This means offices, factories, care homes and even private care homes could be destroyed as a last resort if it is deemed to be at the centre of a surge in coronavirus cases.
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9.37am update: Sadiq Khan calls for ‘game plan’
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said local leaders “desperately need to know what the game plan is” from the Government if they are to prepare to take effective action should the number of infections increase.
He predicted they would have “more difficulty” in closing down geographical areas – such as if the virus was spreading between several boroughs – rather than shutting down an institution.
He told Good Morning Britain: “I think we would be ready to have a lockdown of institutions – so if we had, God forbid, an increase to do with a factory or at a school or an individual place of worship – we think we would have good plans with the councils to close buildings.
“We are served by four airports and the Eurostar, so if they (the Government) talked to me and talked to London leaders, we could explain some of the complexities and work through them.
“None of this insurmountable. but let’s work together.”
UK coronavirus cases by area
8.54am update: Russia’s coronavirus cases exceed 800k
Russia reported 5,204 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing its nationwide tally to 866,627, the fourth largest caseload in the world.
Russia’s coronavirus taskforce said 139 people had died over the last 24 hours, pushing the official death toll to 14,490.
8.31am update: Globath death toll exceeds 700k
The global death toll from the coronavirus surpassed 700,000 on Wednesday, according to a Reuters tally, with the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico leading the rise in fatalities.
Nearly 5,900 people are dying every 24 hours from COVID-19 on average. This equates to 247 people per hour, or one person every 15 seconds.
8.14am update: Tightening of restrictions to open schools
Professor Neil Ferguson said there will have to be “some tightening up” of restrictions if opening schools raises the ‘R’ number.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Whether, in high schools, FE colleges, it is necessary for children to go back 100% or whether we can have other alternative means of provision, children being in one week and out the other week, therefore reducing contacts in school and outside school, or whether we row back on the relaxation of restrictions in the rest of society to allow schools to be fully opened, for instance social venues, leisure venues, more working from home – those things.
“I mean that really is a policy decision, but I’m just saying, in my view, it is likely that some form of those measures will be necessary to maintain control of transmission.”
On whether the virus can be controlled in winter, he added: “Things could get quite difficult. I mean, I’m reasonably confident that as long as there is the political will in place to maintain control of transmission that we can do it, we’ve have good enough surveillance now to know what is going on.”
People are urged to wear masks and follow restrictions
Holidaymakers travel during the coronavirus crisis
7.50am update: Lockdown laws come into force in 16 UK towns and cities
Laws enforcing lockdown restrictions in areas of the north of England including Manchester, parts of east Lancashire and West Yorkshire have come into force.
The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions on Gatherings) (North of England) Regulations 2020 were finally published on Tuesday afternoon.
Ministers had said the rules – which ban people from different households meeting in a private home or garden following a spike in coronavirus cases – would apply from midnight on July 31.
Officials refused to comment when asked why there had been a delay in introducing the laws and on what legal basis they had been enforced for the first five days of the measures.
Human rights barrister Adam Wagner, commenting on the legislation on Twitter, said: “They come into force and do not (cannot) apply to anything which happened before that.”
The legislation imposes restrictions on metropolitan, city and borough council areas in: Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Rossendale, Calderdale and Kirklees.
7.47am update: Ukraine reports record jump in cases
Ukraine recorded a record daily jump of 1,271 coronavirus cases on Tuesday.
The number of infections has increased sharply in Ukraine in the past two months as authorities have eased some restrictions, allowing cafes, churches and public transport to reopen.
Health minister Maksym Stepanov urged people to obey broader restrictions that are still in place.
He said: “Ukrainians, the fight against coronavirus is impossible without you. The rules are very simple – the use of masks, antiseptics and a distance of 1.5 metres. Following these simple rules significantly reduces the risk of disease.”
The total number of cases rose to 75,490, including 1,788 deaths and 41,527 recovered as of August 5.
7.40am update: Schools will return in September
Schools minister Nick Gibb has confirmed the Government’s position that all children will return to school in September.
He told Sky News: “We’re very clear that all children will be returning to school in September, including in areas of local lockdown such as Greater Manchester.
“It is hugely important for children’s education, for their wellbeing, that they do return to school and schools are working enormously hard in preparation for September to make sure that the risk of transmitting the virus within the school environment is kept to an absolute minimum.
“We have issued very detailed guidance to schools about hygiene, about keeping children in these bubbles – class-sized bubbles in primary schools, year-group bubbles in secondary schools – making sure children aren’t unnecessarily mixing with other children in the school, staggered lunch breaks, staggered play times, doing everything that we can to minimise contact – one-way systems through schools and so on – so that children are safe in school.”
Asked whether the Government would consider closing pubs and restaurants to ensure all children can return to school safely in September, Mr Gibb replied: “Our priority is to make sure that children are back in school with their friends.”
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