Today, the UK Government is discussing the Coronavirus Bill, a 329 page document outlining the key powers and changes that could come into effect during these challenging times. The aim of the bill is to;
- Contain and slow the virus
- Ease legislative and regulatory requirements
- Enhance capacity and flexible deployment of staff
- Manage the deceased in a dignified way
- Support and protect the public.
The following is a list of the key components that we have put together (some of which may have changed since the original publication of the bill on 19th March 2020).
- The police, public health and immigration officers could be given special powers to detain those refusing to follow health guidance
- Currently the police can detain people for failing to comply and courts have imposed a £1000 fine.
- Crematoriums will be ordered to cremate the dead in communities where they risk overwhelming the system
- Only one doctor (instead of two) will be able to authorise a cremation
- Only one doctor (instead of two and a mental health expert) will be able to detain an individual under the Mental Health Act
- Temporary extensions on the limits will also be allowed
- Temporary Social Workers will be able to care for vulnerable people as long as they are fit, proper and suitably experienced to be registered
- Events and gatherings could be prohibites, and premises shut down
- This will be an extension on the shutdown of pubs and clubs, and could also reach to shops and other buildings
- Food producers will be compelled to tell the government when supplies are beginning to run low
- Creating a more collaborative way of working
- The government can close down or give specific types of direction over how individual schools are run
- Override the maximum class sizes allowed to account for teacher shortages
Sick Pay, Pensions and National Insurance
- The government will support employers to ensure that Statutory Sick Pay can be honoured (by the HMRC)
- Sick Pay will be paid on the first day of isolation (rather than after 3 days)
- Pension rules on senior medics will be lifted
- Ministers will be able to change National Insurance Contributions much easier
More on this can be found here.