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;

  1. Contain and slow the virus
  2. Ease legislative and regulatory requirements
  3. Enhance capacity and flexible deployment of staff
  4. Manage the deceased in a dignified way
  5. 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).

Police Powers

  • 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.

Death

  • 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

Health

  • 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

Shutdown Powers

  • 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

  • Food producers will be compelled to tell the government when supplies are beginning to run low
  • Creating a more collaborative way of working

Schools

  • 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.

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