On 29 June, the government announced localised coronavirus measures for Leicestershire in the nation’s first ‘local lockdown’.
This briefing summarises:
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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:
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.
Measures outlined for Leicestershire, where the government has enforced the UK’s first local lockdown on 29 June, include:
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:
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.
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:
Centre managers should also consider what changes might be needed to enable safe access to the building.
Local risk assessments are also referred to in the Public Health England COVID-19: infection prevention and control guidance.