8. Coronavirus bill
The emergency legislation that the Government has been working on to help deal with COVID-19 has now passed into law and it contains a whole range of measures to help ensure that the country is able to deal with the impact of the virus. The measures are primarily aimed around assisting with the health care response but they also address other related areas of concern.
Further implementing legislation (also known as regulations) is required to come forward from Government before some of the measures can be put into operation, and as these will come from a range of Government departments there is no clear timescale yet, although they are expected to come forward relatively quickly.
Coronavirus bill summary
- It ensures that recently retired NHS staff and social workers can return to work
- Students nearing the end of their medical training can start work
- It ensures that the national volunteer call is supported with individuals being able to help out for two, three or four week stints in any 16 week period without any impact on their job or loss of earnings.
- It also seeks to reduce the burdens on frontline staff and key workers, carrying out tasks remotely, ie less paperwork and less administrative tasks
- It enables local authorities to prioritise care for people with the most pressing needs.
- There are powers for local and national bodies to require information to be provided in relation to the capacity to deal with the deceased and our food supply.
- There are reduced paperwork requirements around registration of deaths
- It gives powers to direct certain actions in relation to the transportation, storage and disposal of the deceased.
- Individuals are being supported by ensuring that those suffering from Covid-19 are entitled to statutory sick pay and those in rented accommodation are at reduced risk from eviction.
- The Government is also looking to contain and slow the virus by reducing unnecessary social contacts. This is an ever changing situation and things have moved on significantly since the legislation was drafted (the current restrictions on movement and travel being such an example) but it gives powers to suspend certain events and gatherings, to quarantine individuals suspected of having the virus by the police, immigration and public health consultants, delaying planned elections and permitting the closure of schools and ports.