Under new Health Protection legislation, which comes into force at 12.01 am on 18 July, authorities will be able to shut down pubs and restaurants and cancel events as well as prohibit or restrict the number of people on premises if they deem them to be ‘a serious and imminent threat to public health’ and that the move ‘is necessary for the purpose of preventing, protecting against, controlling or providing a public health response to the incidence or spread of infection by Coronavirus in the local authority’s area’,
Speaking today (17 July) about the new measures, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “From tomorrow local authorities will have new powers in their areas. They will be able to close specific premises, shut public outdoor spaces and cancel events.”
“Ministers will be able to close whole sectors, or types of premises in an area, introduce local stay at home orders, prevent people entering or leaving defined areas, reduce the maximum size of gatherings beyond national rules, or restrict transport systems serving local areas.”
The move has been described by licensing law firm Thomas & Thomas as “probably the most significant powers ever delegated to local authorities”. The firm says that local authorities would be able to use their powers if they are satisfied that certain conditions are met, but warned that these conditions were “open to interpretation”.
It adds that the local authority must review its decision at least once every seven days, which provided scope for some businesses to reopen quickly, but only provided that the local authority can be persuaded that its concerns have been addressed and measures taken.