Pubs Could Be Shut Until July As Lockdown Powers Extended
Pubs, bars, restaurants and non-essential shops could remain shut until July after the Government extended its lockdown powers.
The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No. 3) Regulations 2020 were introduced in July last year and were set to expire last week.
The regulations mean the Government is allowed to close certain businesses, such as pubs, gyms and restaurants, to help try and control the spread of the virus.
But a report in the Sunday Telegraph says following a lockdown review, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has now introduced a new expiry date of 17 July - meaning that technically pubs and other non-essential businesses could stay closed until then.
Mark Harper, chair of Coronavirus Recovery Group of Conservative MPs, who campaigns against the current restrictions, told the paper: "Given the limited time allowed for debate this change in the law was little noticed.
"Once the top four risk groups have been vaccinated and fully protected by March 8, assuming the Government hits the February 15 deadline, the Government must start easing the restrictions.
"Vaccinations will of course bring immunity from Covid, but they must bring immunity from lockdowns and restrictions too."
A source from the Department for Health told the Sunday Telegraph MPs voted to extend the regulations' end date at the beginning of this month.
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The unnamed source said: "The regulations that encompass the measures - including local authority powers - automatically expire after six months.
"As we are currently in a national lockdown it was necessary to renew the regulations, which means they are automatically extended for another six months.
"However, these measures are still subject to the statuary review point."
The news comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was 'too early' to say when restrictions could be listed.
During his televised briefing on Friday, a journalist asked Johnson if lockdown could be eased in spring or summer.
Johnson replied: "I think it's too early to say when we'll be able to lift some of some of the restrictions.
"What we're seeing in the ONS data, in the REACT survey, we're seeing the contagiousness of the new variant that we saw arrive just before Christmas.
"There's no doubt it does spread very fast indeed."
He added that there would 'unquestionably will be a tough few weeks ahead'.
Featured Image Credit: PA
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