LOCAL authorities across England have been allowed to close public spaces, shops, restaurants and bars until July 17.

According to the Telegraph, the government has extended lockdown laws to enable councils to close spaces.

Changes were made as part of a lockdown review by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, and entail an extension of a law that was due to expire soon.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No.3) Regulations 2020 was a law initially introduced in July of 2020.

The law allows English local authorities to limit access to or close premises and public spaces in its area to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The health secretary extended the law until July 17, around the time that the summer holidays usually begin for schools.

A Department of Health source told The Telegraph: "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.”

Reacting to the news, Andy Lennox, founder of hospitality group The Wonky Table, said: "BCP Council has my full support in terms of the way that they are approaching the summer season.

"If a restaurant, or pub, or bar is not following Covid protocols, they should be shut.

"We must make sure as an industry we are whiter than white.

"It is a blanket law at the end of the day, I can't see BCP Council taking a decision without engaging with The Wonky Table."

Mr Lennox is also campaigning to the government to keep VAT for hospitality at five per cent. His petition had nearly reached 15,000 signatures at the time of writing.

Councillor May Haines, portfolio holder for community safety, said: “Our responsibilities remain the same and our regulatory teams will continue to provide advice and support to businesses, investigate outbreaks and respond to complaints about non-compliance with Covid-19 guidance and legislation using the powers available to us while the restrictions remain in place.”

Councillor Phillip Broadhead, portfolio holder for regeneration, economy and strategic planning, added: “We have enormous sympathy for local businesses facing financial difficulties and we have been working hard to ensure that the process for awarding grants is as automatic as possible.

“On Friday, January 22 alone, we were able to issue £19 million in grant support to businesses across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, and we will be exploring further streams of support to help businesses bounce back and reopen as soon as it is safe to do so.

“In the meantime, we would urge businesses to check the support available to them at bcpcouncil.gov.uk/financialsupport.”