POLICE could be called upon to enforce a new local lockdown if there is another coronavirus outbreak in the town.

Although Covid-19 cases are dropping, Swindon Borough Council has come up with a plan for managing a further outbreak.

The borough’s health and wellbeing board will be asked to approve that plan at its meeting on Tuesday. It is made up of councillors, council officers and health, police, fire service officers, as well as members of the public and patients' advocates.

The report says the council and its partners will be able to order venues and businesses to be closed and thoroughly cleaned – and individuals to be isolated or even detained if Covid-19 cases soar again in Swindon.

It adds: “Enforcement may be required under certain circumstances. This may be through the existing Covid-19 regulations, the police or possibly Public Health England. Orders regarding Covid-19 allow for people to be detained to prevent virus transmission.

“Discussion of new powers for local authorities in response to outbreaks are underway at national level and if brought about could be used once available if required.

The council's director of public health Steve Maddern said: “I want to reassure residents that we are working hard to help prevent and control outbreaks of Covid-19 here in Swindon.

“Protecting the health of the public is one of our key priorities and this new local outbreak management plan is the next phase of supporting those at higher risk of infection to apply prevention messages and to also act fast on local information to manage and prevent the spread of outbreaks as lockdown measures reduce.”

Cabinet member for adults and health Brian Ford said: “Although nationally the number of cases is falling we are acutely aware that we are far from the end of this crisis and there is potential for further spikes in the disease.

“We therefore have to do everything we can to ensure we put a lid on any new outbreaks as soon as they occur.

"We are fortunate to have the regional coronavirus testing centre at the Wroughton park and ride site and that will allow us to very quickly establish if we have any new outbreaks and to then carry out a rapid track and test process.

Coun Ford added: “In Swindon local residents have done a great job in observing the government’s guidelines and I would just encourage people to keep following the advice so we continue to keep the cases at a low level.”

Swindon Borough has been given £900,000 by the government to put its plans into practice.

It says it has seven main priorities for controlling a new outbreak – protecting people in care homes and schools; preventing and managing outbreaks in other high risk places, locations and communities; ensuring local testing capacity; leading contact tracing; integrating national and local data for planning and to be able to respond quickly to outbreaks; supporting vulnerable people to get help to self-isolate and setting local boards to oversee prevention and control of Covid-19.

The council says it will use the national test and trace services in the borough, including the regional testing centre at Wroughton, to reduce the risk of the infection.

The health and wellbeing board meets at 2pm on Tuesday.

A link is available from the agenda page on swindon.gov.uk to allow members of the public to tune in.