Birmingham to tighten lockdown rules from Wednesday

25 August 2020, 12:30

Birmingham will tighten lockdown restrictions from Wednesday
Birmingham will tighten lockdown restrictions from Wednesday. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Birmingham will tighten lockdown rules from Wednesday by giving local councils the power to close pubs and restaurants that flout coronavirus guidelines.

On Tuesday, Birmingham City Council announced new enforcement measures, coming into effect tomorrow, which will target businesses and establishments that disregard Covid-19 restrictions.

The changes come following discussions with the government over how to prevent the spread of the virus in the West Midlands city.

Following a meeting of local authority chiefs and the government's gold command, the latest measures were given the green light despite the rate of infection in Birmingham now falling.

In a statement, the council said the "enhanced measures" would tackle the fact much of the current guidance is "not legally enforceable" at the moment.

The local authority said making the changes "strengthens our position to take action where required".

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Leader of Birmingham City Council Ian Ward said: “While the recent figures show our rates are going down, we cannot be complacent. We must all continue to follow all the relevant safety guidance in order to protect our families, friends and work colleagues.

"Most importantly, staying disciplined now is a price worth paying when compared to the cost of damaging the future life chances of our City’s children – which may happen if there is a spike in the rate of infections and schools have to close, or parents do not send them due to concerns about the potential risks.

"Whilst the impact of Covid-19 may be felt over the next few years, the negative impacts upon children not being present at school will last a lifetime."

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The new measures will grant local authorities and the police the power to investigate reports of businesses which are failing to adhere to Covid-secure risk assessments.

Firms who are found to be failing could be issued with written warnings, while if they continue to flout regulations they may be forced to close.

They will also be reminded to enforce government guidelines to stop the virus spreading, such as ensuring customers and staff comply with social distancing and, unless exempt, customers wear a face-covering where required.

Hospitality premises in the city should also not accept bookings for more than six people or from groups from more than two households. If unsure, businesses will have the right to ask and refuse service.

Track and trace should also be enforced to ensure all customers provide their personal details in case of later testing positive for coronavirus while staff should be sent home to isolate and take a test if they show symptoms.

The new measures will also allow law enforcement officials to prohibit certain types of events from taking place if too many people attend, while they will also be able to restrict access to, or close altogether, public outdoor spaces if there is a public health need to.

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