As the government increases its prohibition powers, pubs may be forced to close until July.

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Lockdown powers that allow local authorities to close pubs, restaurants, shops and open spaces during the Covid-19 pandemic have been extended by the government

Lockdown laws have been quietly extended by the government with councils given increased powers to close pubs, restaurants, shops and open spaces until July 17 this year.

The move comes after Matt Hancock said the government is a “long, long, long way” from relaxing Covid lockdown restrictions.

Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of trade body UK Hospitality, called the extension “surprising”, as “the large proportion of the population will be vaccinated by then”.

The legislation changes were made as part of a review of the third lockdown by Health Secretary Matt Hancock earlier this month.

The law, originally introduced on July 18 last year, allows councils to close or limit access to premises, outdoor spaces and events to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The regulations last six months and applies to England only. They were due to expire last week but have now been extended until July 17.

The Telegraph reports that Mark Harper, who chairs the Coronavirus Recovery Group of Tory MPs, said: “The extension of councils’ Covid powers until July will be of great concern to those worried about their jobs and businesses.

“Given the limited time allowed for debate, this change in the law was little noticed.”

He said the government should start easing restrictions when the top four risk groups have been vaccinated.

“Vaccinations will of course bring immunity from Covid, but they must bring immunity from lockdowns and restrictions too,” Mr Harper added.

Tory MP Sir Charles Walker added: “The hope has to be that with the successful rollout of the vaccine, this summer date is only provisional with a spring opening being the preferred option.”

A Department of Health source said MPs voted for these national restrictions earlier this month and the regulations had been due to expire.

The government has pledged to review lockdown measures in mid-February.

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