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 kind of measures that have been put in place in different local contexts.
- Questions and challenges faced by housing associations operating in these areas.
- Guidance on risk assessments that may be helpful.
We've put together some top tips for housing associations operating during a local lockdown.
Information on local lockdowns to date
A variety of local restrictions have now been implemented in Leicester, Luton, Northampton, Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle, Oldham and elsewhere across the north of England. Specific details of what members of the public can and can’t do in each area affected can be found on the government website.
Guidance for local authorities on how to manage outbreaks and implement local restrictions was also updated on 7 August 2020.
The government is using the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) to advise on the overall prevalence of COVID-19 to help inform decisions to ease restrictions safely.
The JBC identifies 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.
This allows the government to take a range of measures:
- Stopping hotspots developing by detecting infection outbreaks at a more localised level and rapidly intervening with targeted measures.
- Targeting restrictions as precisely as 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.
Measures outlined for Leicestershire, where the government enforced the UK’s first local lockdown on 29 June, included:
- Non-essential shops that reopened on 15 June were asked to close from 30 June.
- Bars, restaurants and hairdressers did not reopen on 4 July.
- Schools closed from Thursday 2 July except to vulnerable children and children of key workers.
- The relaxation of shielding measures did not take place in Leicester on 6 July.
- People in Leicester were recommended to stay at home as much as they could
- Recommendations that people should only make essential journeys in and out of Leicester.
In other parts of the country which have seen local measures implemented, these have stopped short of full ‘local lockdown’ but have included:
- Closures of specific businesses where outbreaks can be traced back to one workplace.
- Recommendations that workers from specific workplaces self-isolate.
- Extensions to shielding for vulnerable groups.
- Continued restrictions on indoor socialising with people from outside your household, in pubs and restaurants or in other people’s homes.
Questions and challenges faced by housing associations
We’re aware that the local lockdowns and regional variations in the level of guidance provided present specific questions and challenges for housing associations. 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 held a webinar on local lockdowns on 18 August
We also hosted a further webinar on easing restrictions in supported housing schemes on Thursday 3 September, with a representative from Public Health England attending to talk through the most recent government guidance for supported living schemes.
If you have any feedback or questions on local lockdowns, please get in touch.
Guidance on risk assessments
Much of the government guidance which has been issued regarding infection control and local lockdowns has recommended that organisations take a risk-based approach to operating their services.
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.