Local lockdown measures: government information and next steps

On 29 June, the government announced localised coronavirus measures for Leicestershire in the nation’s first ‘local lockdown’.

This briefing summarises:

  • Government guidance and information to date on local coronavirus measures
  • The specific measures put in place Leicestershire
  • Questions and challenges faced by housing associations operating in the area
  • Guidance on risk assessments that may be helpful

Operating during local lockdowns

Join our webinar exploring best practice for housing associations on managing local lockdowns in areas where they operate. 

18 August 2020, 2-3pm

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Information on local lockdowns to date

The government made reference to the fact that coronavirus measures may need to change in different ways and at different times in different parts of the UK in Our plan to rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy.

This plan refers to “smarter controls”, which include:

  • stopping hotspots developing by detecting infection outbreaks at a more localised level and rapidly intervening with targeted measures
  • targeting future restrictions more precisely than at present, where possible, for example relaxing measures in parts of the country that are lower risk, but continuing them in higher risk locations when the data suggests this is warranted
  • local outbreaks will require reactive measures to be implemented reactively to maintain control of transmission
  • reacting to a sudden and concerning rise in the infection rate by re-imposing restrictions in specific geographic areas or in limited sectors where it is proportionate to do so.

The Health Secretary also mentioned in his recent speech on the lockdown in Leicester that “[l]ocal action like this is an important tool in our armoury to deal with outbreaks while we get the country back on its feet…and we said that local action would be an increasingly important part of our plan.”

The government has also announced that it will use the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) to advise on the overall prevalence of COVID-19 to help inform decisions to ease restrictions safely.

The JBC will identify specific actions to address local spikes in infections, in partnership with local agencies, e.g. advising Ministers, businesses and local partners to close schools or workplaces where infection rates have spiked, to reduce risk of further infection locally.

The plan states that “[l]ocal actions triggered by JBC analysis and assessment will be guided by a clear set of protocols based on the best scientific understanding of COVID-19, and what effective local actions look like.”

No specific guidance on managing local lockdowns has yet been issued.

Local measures for Leicestershire

Measures outlined for Leicestershire, where the government has enforced the UK’s first local lockdown on 29 June, include:

  • Non-essential shops that reopened on 15 June have been asked to close from 30 June
  • Bars, restaurants and hairdressers will not reopen on 4 July
  • Schools will close from Thursday 2 July except to vulnerable children and children of key workers. They will not reopen until next term
  • The relaxation of shielding measures due on 6 July cannot now take place in Leicester
  • Single-adult households (those who live alone or with dependent children only) can still form a support bubble with one other household
  • People are still able to meet in a group of up to 6 and only outdoors, provided strict social distancing is followed
  • People in Leicester are recommended to stay at home as much as they can
  • government advises against all but essential travel to, from and within Leicester.

Questions and challenges faced by housing associations

We’re aware that the local lockdown and lack of specific guidance presents specific questions and challenges for housing associations operating within the current and any future local lockdown areas. Issues you’ve raised with us include: 

  • Whether day-to-day services should change within lockdown areas
  • Managing differing services for residents inside and outside of lockdown areas
  • Whether there are any restrictions on moving in and out of area
  • Impact on new lettings within lockdown areas.

We know that members urgently need information and clarity on these and other issues and we have raised this with MHCLG as a matter of priority. MHCLG have confirmed they will issue more clarity for housing associations soon. We will update members in affected areas as soon as we can.

If you’re affected by the local lockdown in Leicester or have any issues or questions about local lockdowns more generally, please get in touch

Guidance on risk assessments

In the absence of specific local lockdown guidance, new guidance on the safe use of multi-purpose community facilities could be useful to members thinking about how to manage access to their schemes, for example for repairs and tradespeople.

This guidance states that “anyone with control of non-domestic premises (such as a community centre, village or community hall) has legal responsibilities under health and safety law, and must take reasonable measures to ensure the premises, access to it, and any equipment or substances provided are safe for people using it, so far as is reasonably practicable.”

Specifically, it recommends that “to help decide which actions to take prior to re-opening the building for permitted activity, a COVID-19 risk assessment should be completed, taking account of the core guidance on social distancing.”

According to the guidance, a risk assessment should:

  • Determine the maximum capacity of a hall or hire space while able to maintain social distancing according to the relevant guidelines.
  • Identify points of high risk in the building and mitigating actions to address the identified risks.

Centre managers should also consider what changes might be needed to enable safe access to the building.

Guidance on carrying out a risk assessment and risk assessment templates are available via the Health and Safety Executive. There is also an online risk assessment tool for businesses.

Local risk assessments are also referred to in the Public Health England COVID-19: infection prevention and control guidance.

Who to speak to

Contact the team