Amid the pandemic outbreak of COVID-19, The United Kingdom
has introduced a bill in the British Parliament to address the alarming situation the country is in right now.
Titled as 'Coronavirus Bill'
, the proposed legislation would be a statute covering all the diverse issues, meanwhile addressing them as well, such as emergency responses, police powers, access to testing and healthcare, and much more. Considering the grave situation this pandemic has put all of us in and the requirement of such measures that should be taken in order to curb the same, the Bill has empowered police, immigration and public health officers to detain those who they suspect as being infected with COVID-19
. These officers can also extract a fine of £1,000
from those who refuse to undergo suggested testing. The bill talks about giving powers to public health officers to order a suspected person to undergo screening and testing within 14 days. Such persons can also be asked for providing their travel history and biological samples. In addition to this, the police are empowered to order suspected or potentially infected persons to practice isolation, social distancing, restrict their travel and other activities with other people.
To keep pace with the rising number of cases, the Bill has called for emergency registration of health professionals such as nurses, medical practitioners, health care professionals, and pharmaceutical chemists. The provision is also made for emergency volunteers who will be completely compensated by the state for their loss of income. The Bill has purported to relax and modify the compliance with various regulatory obligations such as indemnity for health service authority, tortious liability in certain cases involving medical professionals, NHS Continuing Healthcare Assessments, provisions relating to cremation and death registrations, etc. State authorities have been given enough power and authority to get information from persons working or contributing in the food supply chain, regarding possible disruption in good supplies and other related issues. Such a person is duty bound to give the required information, failing which, he shall be penalised. ‘The Bill has also asked for suspension of requirement to hold inquest with jury under section 7(2)(c) of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.’
In order to implement social distancing, the Bill has allowed authorities to temporarily shut down schools and institutions of higher education. The authorities are also asked to increase access to vaccination facilities. [Read Bill]
Author – Devansh Dev