Parliament will vote on whether to renew the Coronavirus Act later this month, a year and a half after it was first introduced to grant ’emergency’ powers to the Government. A clause within the Act means that it will automatically lapse in March 2022. Ministers are keen to keep hold of their powers until then due in part to fears of ‘potential challenges’ this winter. The Financial Times has the story.
Boris Johnson, Prime Minister, will face his first parliamentary battle of the autumn over the measure when the House of Commons returns from its summer recess next week. Ministers are preparing for a fight with anti-lockdown backbench Conservative MPs over the Coronavirus Act, which handed the Government sweeping emergency powers in March 2020.
The legislation includes lifting restrictions on public bodies, such as limits on school class sizes, and allows the police to force those suspected of having the virus into self-isolation. …
When parliament last voted on the act, five months ago, the then Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, said he could not rule out a further extension but said his own preference was for it not to be renewed.
But ministers will argue that emergency powers are still required for another six months, despite limited restrictions in place at the moment, in light of potential challenges ahead this winter.
Officials at the Department for Health and Social Care said the extension of the legislation was necessary because coronavirus cases across the U.K. were currently running high, hospitalisations were rising and a difficult flu season was expected. Ministers are also braced for a surge of cases when schools return to England in the next week.