Birmingham police to get powers to shut down businesses flouting coronavirus restrictions

Birmingham police to get powers to shut down businesses flouting coronavirus restrictions

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Police will be able to shut down pubs and other businesses flouting coronavirus rules under new powers handed to them in Birmingham.

The enforcement measures are the latest addition to the police arsenal amid fears of a building outbreak in England’s second largest city – though the rate there is now falling.

Birmingham was placed on a government watch list on Friday as an “area of enhanced support”, and the city’s council met with the government’s gold command this week to propose the new powers.

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The local authority said in a statement that much of current guidance was “not legally enforceable” and that the changes would remedy the situation.

The extra power to close businesses “strengthens our position to take action where required”, they said in a statement.

As well as the ability to shutter businesses, the new powers would also give police the authority to ban events such as weddings and funerals, impose based on maximum size limits.

They would also be able to restrict access to public outdoor spaces in the interests of public health: measures that could be use to close public parks.

The council has previously warned that a rise in infections was coinciding with a fall in the number of pubs recording customers’ names and addresses for test and trace purposes.

Ian Ward, Birmingham City Council leader, said: “These new powers will allow us to intervene when businesses are putting staff and customers at risk of infection.

“By all working together to take action now, we can hopefully bring the numbers down, prevent further restrictions and protect the health and jobs of people across the city.”

He added: “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.

“While 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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