Government not clear on legal powers to implement local lockdowns

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care Lord Bethell has admitted that the Government’s policy for local lockdowns is still “in development”, and could not confirm who would have legal responsibility for implementing and managing these. 

In response to a question from Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Scriven, Lord Bethell confirmed that “arrangements for local lockdowns aren’t fully in place”. 

Following the exchange, Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Scriven, a Former Leader of Sheffield City Council, said: “At the Number 10 press conference, the Chief Medical Officer has said we will be likely to get local flare ups. The Government cannot seriously expect local areas to take action to keep local people safe and to dampen the Virus in their area if the Government hasn’t got policies, systems and legal arrangements in place to ensure local bodies can take swift and decisive action to deal with a spike of Coronavirus.

“It is utterly incomprehensible that the Government has decided to start lifting  the lockdown – recognising the risks this poses – without legal clarity on the issue of who is responsible for managing local infection surges and implementing lockdowns. 

“If we are to have any hope of containing COVID-19 and preventing a second wave of infections, these systems are absolutely pivotal. We must see clarity on these powers as a matter of urgency. Without this, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that Ministers are again playing catch up with what the scientists are telling them, taking serious risks with public health.”

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