Home News Do local authorities have the power to refuse the UK Government’s lockdown...

Do local authorities have the power to refuse the UK Government’s lockdown rules?

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Composite image Andy Burnham Boris Johnson
Greater Manchester is refusing to go into a tier three lockdown (Picture: Metro.co.uk)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he ‘will intervene’ if an agreement with Manchester about its move to tier three cannot be reached.

Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, has been very vocal in his disapproval of a tier three lockdown, which would see more venue closures.

The mayor even threatened legal action over the measures being ‘carried out on the cheap’, although his threats were largely ignored.

This debacle has left many wondering whether local authorities have the power to refuse Government lockdowns.

Visit our live blog for the latest updates Coronavirus news live

Can local authorities in England refuse Government-sanctioned lockdowns?

In most cases, local authorities and the Government work together, however, the ultimate decision lies with the central Government.

Boris Johnson today said he is keen to ‘work something out’ with authorities in Manchester, according to Sky News.

‘I am, I have to say, concerned about what’s happening in Manchester where the levels of infection are rising steeply, the level of hospitalisation is rising steeply and we do need to see action,’ he said.

A man wearing a facemask walks past a poster urging people to wear face coverings.
Local authorities cannot refuse a lockdown (Picture: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

‘I’d much rather not impose things, I’d much rather that we were able to work out something together with local authorities, with the mayor in Manchester.

‘But it is up to local leaders to show the kind of leadership that we have seen in Liverpool, in Lancashire and in London.’

In a coronavirus briefing on Friday, Boris Johnson stressed that he ‘will intervene’ if an agreement with Manchester cannot be reached.

Mr Johnson said: ‘Of course, if agreement cannot be reached, I will need to intervene in order to protect Manchester’s hospitals and save the lives of Manchester’s residents.

‘But our efforts will be so much more effective if we work together.’

Meanwhile, foreign secretary Dominic Raab told BBC Breakfast on Friday that the Government ‘hold in reserve the ability’ to impose stricter restrictions, while urging mayor Andy Burnham ‘to do the right thing by the people of Manchester.’

The tiers are defined by infection rates per 100,000, and so harsh restrictions are put in place for resident’s safety.

The governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all set their own lockdown rules.

What power do local authorities possess around lockdowns?

In England, local authorities have the power to impose their own additional lockdown measures on top of the baseline ones laid out by the Government.

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This was the case in Liverpool, when local authorities decided to close casinos, betting shops, adult gaming centres, indoor gyms, fitness and dance studios, and sports facilities.

The following restrictions may be imposed by your local authority, in tier three regions, according to gov.uk:

  • Restrictions preventing the sale of alcohol in hospitality or closing all hospitality (except takeaway and delivery)
  • Closing indoor and outdoor entertainment venues and tourist attractions
  • Closing venues such as leisure centres and gyms
  • Closing public buildings, such as libraries and community centres
  • Closing personal care and close contact services or prohibiting the highest-risk activities
  • Closing performing arts venues for the purposes of performing to audiences

MORE: Boris says he ‘will intervene’ if agreement isn’t reached with Greater Manchester

MORE: Lancashire ‘to enter most severe tier 3 lockdown today’ with bars and pubs closed

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