Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to give local councils the capacity to implement “lightning lockdowns” without first notifying the government when he gives a major speech today.
The PM is also set to announce more than £3bn extra funding for the NHS to ensure it can cope with a second peal of coronavirus cases in the winter.
The speech comes after the government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said the UK had not achieved a good outcome when dealing with coronavirus.
He also dealt a blow to Johnson’s plans for people to return to the office. Vallance said he saw “absolutely no reason” to stop working from home. “For many companies [it] remains a perfectly good option because it’s easy to do.”
Johnson’s speech will hand councils the powers to deal with local coronavirus outbreaks quickly. The government has been criticised for not locking down Leicester – the UK’s first local lockdown – soon enough.
But a government source told The Sun: “Councils will be able to impose lighting lockdowns where they see fit.”
Councils are expected to be allowed to close pubs and cafes without first seeking government position. They may also be able to ban weddings and other gatherings at short notice.
PM to unveil rest of coronavirus lockdown roadmap
The Prime Minister is also set to reveal the remaining steps in the “roadmap” to exiting the Covid-19 lockdown.
He will also promise to have coronavirus testing capacity reach 500,00 a day by October. He will also pledge to ramp up the NHS track and trace programme.
Ministers are worried about a new spike of coronavirus cases in the winter. The virus is thought to do better in cold conditions and spread faster indoors. That will cause problems if people cannot leave the house in the cold.
A new report from the Academy of Medical Sciences, commissioned by Vallance, warned of a potential second peak if the government does not take action now.
The report said that there could be a further 120,000 deaths from coronavirus from September to June next year. It urged action be taken to reduce and keep down the Covid-19 rate of transmission, and bolster hospital resources.