The Mayor of Watford says more detail is needed on how a proposed local lockdown will work so that preparations can be made if cases surge.

The Government is preparing to give local authorities the power to initiate a ‘local lockdown’ if there are coronavirus flare-ups in particular areas in the future.

This would mean that once overall lockdown restrictions ease across the country, specific areas could face localised lockdowns if there is a flare up of cases, while the rest of the country operates as normal.

This could mean that once councils obtain the power, local schools, businesses, or workplaces could be closed within areas of high cases of Covid-19.

However while the concept was addressed by Health Secretary Matt Hancock last week, little information has been provided since to explain the further details about how a local lockdown would work.

Watford needs to ‘do all we can’

Watford Mayor Peter Taylor said that Watford needs to prepare and “do all we can” to stop the spread of Covid-19.

He said: “Our priority must be to work together to tackle this terrible virus and to do all we can to stop its spread in our town.

“We are aware of the Government’s plans to introduce lockdown measures to a local level if necessary if there is a localised outbreak of Covid-19.

“We need more details about how this might work in practice so we are able to prepare for this.”

He added: “We will continue to work closely with health experts and support measures that keep people in our town safe.

“I’d like to thank everyone in Watford who have made enormous sacrifices over the last few months and continue to do so.

“These are really tough times but I know by working together and considering others we will be able to get through this.”

Hertfordshire County Council said that they are awaiting further guidance from the government, but are “working very closely with our district and boroughs and being led by public health on any of our measures being put in place across the county”.

What has the health secretary said?

Mr Hancock announced there were a range of measures to combat local flare-ups of coronavirus.

He said it could mean “shutting to new admissions a hospital A&E if there was an outbreak in that hospital”.

The powers available were as broad as the “legal toolkit” that were used for the national lockdown.

Local directors of public health would work with regional Public Health England and NHS teams “to make sure we got the response right”.

The Joint Biosecurity Centre would have a national role “to provide the advice and the information that would then be acted on locally”.

It would advices the UK’s chief medical officers who would report to ministers and local health bodies.

When first announcing the concept, Mr Hancock said: “We will have local lockdowns in future where there are flare-ups and we have a system we are putting in place with a combination of Public Health England and the new joint biosecurity centre, along with the local directors of public health who play an absolutely crucial role in the decision-making in the system, to make sure if there is a local flare-up, there is a local lockdown.

“And so local lockdowns will be part of the future system that we put in place as part of the NHS test-and-trace system.”

At the moment, would a local lockdown be needed?

While local authorities currently do not have the power to enforce a local lockdown, readers can be rest assured that current trends show a local lockdown would not be needed at this moment in time.

The R rate in Hertfordshire is estimated to be around 0.69, which is positive as the Government aims to keep the number of people an infected person will pass Covid-19 on to, below one.

In Hertfordshire, research from Deckzero suggests the number has not been above one since the start of May, and gradually dropped over the first few days of the month.

The highest the number has been in the county was 2.40 on March 24.

Read more: Coronavirus R rate in Hertfordshire remains low

In Watford, there are 399 confirmed cases of Covid-19, in Hertsmere there are 390 cases, Dacorum has 359 cases and Three Rivers has 258 cases.

In comparison, Birmingham has the highest total cases in a lower-tier local authority, with 3,237 cases.