Councils have been given the power to close pubs and restaurants until July in England
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, which allows English local authorities to limit access to or close premises and public spaces in its area to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Due to expire last week, the Health Secretary has now extended the law until 17 July, around the time that the summer holidays usually begin for schools.
The move comes after PM Boris Johnson said that "it's too early to say when we'll be able to lift some of the restrictions", and may come as a blow to those hoping for an easing of restrictions by summer.
Deaths and hospital numbers must come down
The Government has pledged a review of lockdown measures in the middle of February, but it's not known what, if any, changes to rules may be made.
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.”
Mr Hancock has said that deaths and hospital numbers would have to come down before any easing of restrictions, along with proof that the Covid vaccination programme is working and not being affected by threats from new variants.
The potential extension of measures until July will come as a blow to many business owners, who fear being out of action much longer may spell the end for their trading.
Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of UK Hospitality, told The Telegraph: "It is surprising that they have been extended for so long when it remains uncertain what restrictions will be in place, and given that the large proportion of the population will be vaccinated by then."