Parliament to vote on Coronavirus Act renewal and new unlocking regulations (COVID-19)

Parliament to vote on Coronavirus Act renewal and new unlocking regulations (COVID-19)

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has set out updated regulations to ease coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown restrictions, which will be laid to Parliament on 25 March 2021. If approved, the regulations will replace the ‘all tiers’ regulations made to enact the tier system in late 2020. The new regulations come ahead of the 29 March easing. Also on 25 March 2021, Parliament will vote on the renewal of Coronavirus Act 2020. The regulations will then undergo statutory review every 35 days.

The government has published a review of the Coronavirus Act 2020 (the Act) on 23 March 2021, which sets out 15 measures to be expired or suspended after the Easter recess (13 April 2021). The vote on 25 March 2021 will prolong the Act for 6 months should Parliament ratify it.

The government seeks to expire 12 sections of the Act:

• Sections 8 and 9 pertaining to emergency volunteers

• Section 15 relating to local authorities’ duties under Care Act 2014

• Section 24 which extends time limits for retention of fingerprints and DNA by the Home Office

• Sections 25 to 29 requiring information from businesses and individuals involved in the food supply chain

• Section 71 allowing a sing Commissioner of Her Majesty’s Treasury to sign instruments instead of requiring the signatures of all Commissioners

• Section 79 applying to England, extending Business Improvement District arrangements

• Section 84 applying to England, postponing General Synod elections of the Church of England

Furthermore, the government wished to suspend three provisions under the Act:

• Section 22 concerning the appointment of temporary Judicial Commissioners

• Section 23 relating to time limits in relation to powers under the Investigatory Powers Act 2016

• Section 58/schedule 2, part 2, to be suspended in England concerning death management

Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, said: 'We are rightly ending as many national measures as safely as possible, while maintaining those which remain necessary and proportionate to help reduce and control infections further as we cautiously but irreversibly ease restrictions and our historic vaccination programme continues apace.'

The review of the Act can be viewed by following this link.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps) (England) Regulations 2021 can be viewed here.

Source: Legal footing for national unlocking set out ahead of vote

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