The Coronavirus Bill has been published and the Government is set to put many of the measures announced by ministers to tackle the outbreak on a statutory footing.
The legislation, which includes powers that will significantly affect civil liberties, is expected to go through the House of Commons without a vote.
Health secretary Matt Hancock, who is tabling the legislation, said: 'By planning for the worst and working for the best we will get through this, but this is a national effort and we must all work together. Crucially they give the government the powers it needs to protect lives.'
The legislation will be time-limited for two years the Government has said.
Among the powers in the Bill is one that will allow ministers to direct a port operator to suspend relevant operations, partially or wholly, in the event that there are insufficient resources to adequately secure the border.
The legislation will also consolidate on a UK-wide basis powers ‘for the detention, isolation and screening of, and other appropriate restrictions to be imposed upon, persons who have or may have coronavirus’.
These sweeping powers to the government enabling it to restrict or prohibit gatherings during the pandemic in any place, vehicle, train, vessel or aircraft, any movable structure.
It also confirms the postponement for a year of elections that were due to take place in May, including for English councils local authority mayors (Bristol, Liverpool and Salford), combined authority mayors (Greater Manchester, Liverpool, Tees Valley, and West Midlands) and the mayor of London.
In addition, the Bill allows ministers to direct the closure of educational institutions and childcare providers, although the Government has said it expects schools to continue to provide education for certain students.
The full list of issues covered by the Bill is:
- Emergency registration of health professionals
- Temporary registration of social workers
- Emergency volunteers
- Mental health and mental capacity
- Health service indemnification
- NHS and local authority care and support
- Registration of deaths and still-births etc
- Investigatory Powers
- Food supply
- Disclosure: Wales
- Disclosure: Scotland
- Vaccinations: Scotland
- Schools, childcare providers etc
- Statutory sick pay
- Protection of public health
- Suspension of port operations
- Powers relating to potentially infectious persons
- Powers relating to events, gatherings and premises
- Courts and tribunals: use of video and audio technology
- Powers in relation to bodies
- Postponement of elections
- Other administrative requirements
- National Insurance Contributions
Explanatory Notes have also been published.