Local leaders asked to consult on lockdown restriction areas

Local leaders will be asked to help recommend appropriate geography for lockdown restrictions in areas impacted by a rise in coronavirus cases.

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) said local authorities in regions subject to national intervention would be asked to agree which areas should be included under any new measures.

It comes after restrictions were imposed on Leicester in June and across Greater Manchester last month.

On Friday, Oldham was exempted from a local lockdown after a review, but will be subject to additional restrictions.

POLITICS Coronavirus Oldham
POLITICS Coronavirus Oldham

The DHSC has said the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) will provide data to inform decision-making on where measures should be brought in.

A final decision on where local restrictions are imposed will be taken by Health Secretary Matt Hancock and chief medical officer Chris Whitty.

Mr Hancock has said he acknowledges the “personal sacrifices” many have made to help reduce rising infection rates.

In a statement, the DHSC said: “To ensure further targeting of the intervention, in future the Government is updating its contain framework to ensure that each week local authorities in an area of national intervention bring a combined proposal on the geography which should be included that has been developed in conjunction with the local cross-party council leadership and MPs.

“The JBC will provide the relevant data, including on the minimum local areas which must be included due to the prevalence of the virus.

Matt Hancock and Chris Whitty
Matt Hancock and Chris Whitty

“Local leadership will then be expected to seek consensus between councils and local MPs and recommend the appropriate geography which fits local travel patterns, work and social behaviours for restrictions to be active in.

“Areas within the local authority where Covid-19 is less prevalent are expected to be exempt from any restrictions.

“The Joint Biosecurity Centre Gold meeting, chaired by the Secretary of State (Mr Hancock) with the chief medical officer (Professor Whitty), will then make the final decision based on the local recommendation, or recommendations if consensus cannot be reached.

“In the northern area of intervention, we will expect councils to engage with MPs immediately, and seek a consensus recommendation to the JBC Silver meeting chaired by the CMO on Wednesday, for a decision at the JBC Gold meeting on Thursday.”