Corona Power Grab: Local Govts Given Power to Demolish ‘Contaminated’ Buildings

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - JULY 10: Workers begin the demolition of the burnt-out Glasgow Art Sch
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

In a stunning power grab by the British government, local councils are set to be empowered with the authority to demolish buildings that are deemed to be epicentres of Chinese coronavirus outbreaks throughout the country.

Published last month — with little fanfare — the Department of Health and Social Care’s “COVID-19 Contain Framework” laid out a series of laws, including the Coronavirus Act 2020, that local governments will be able to utilise in order to contain flare-ups of the Wuhan virus.

The document informed councils that under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, they can apply to a magistrate “to impose restrictions or requirements to close contaminated premises; close public spaces in the area of the local authority; detain a conveyance or movable structure; disinfect or decontaminate premises; or order that a building, conveyance or structure be destroyed”.

The advice paper was unearthed this week by The Telegraph, which pointed out that the powers could result in the destruction of care homes, offices, factories, and even private homes if deemed necessary. Public transport vehicles such as buses and trains, privately-owned cars and even aeroplanes could be subject to government destruction, as well.

The advice also empowers councils to “close certain businesses and venues (for example shops, cafes, gyms, recreation centres, offices, labs, warehouses); close outdoor public areas (for example parks, playgrounds, beaches, esplanades, outdoor swimming pools) and order deep-cleans of buildings or vehicles linked to outbreaks”.

Local councils will be given the leeway to introduce local lockdown measures as well, which Boris Johnson’s government sees as preferable to the introduction of a second lockdown.

The local lockdown powers will include the ability to close or limit the activities of schools, and to set the age range for students allowed to attend classes. The councils will also be able to shut down or limit public events and gatherings, as well as being able to shut down businesses.

Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZidulka


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