Steve Baker claims 'excessive' Coronavirus Act 'should go'
We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info
MPs will vote on the Coronavirus Act – the legislation used for emergency lockdowns and mask mandates – next week. The House of Commons will debate its provisions on October 19, drawing impassioned arguments from the general public. Some have signalled fears ministers may use the act to tighten a vice grip on British liberties, while others state it would provide workers with a vital lifeline should cases flare up again.
The Act provides combined powers for Government ministers to “take the right action to respond effectively to the progress of the coronavirus” across England only.
Over the last year and a half, Covid-busting measures have included successive lockdowns, mask mandates and social distancing.
But they have also included vital lifelines for the general public to live while avoiding potential contacts that could infect them with COVID-19.
As such, they have proven invaluable in helping save lives over the last year and employment specialists agree that it has supported workers who might otherwise have suffered.
Sarah Hayes, an employment specialist at leading firm Paris Smith solicitors, praised the bill’s sick pay initiative.
She told Express.co.uk: “One of the significant changes introduced under the Coronavirus Act related to the payment of statutory sick pay for employees.
“From March 2020 onwards, the Act has permitted the temporary suspension of the usual ‘three day waiting period’ for SSP through new regulations.
“This has meant that SSP could be paid to employees from the first day of their absence in permitted circumstances where the absence was due to Covid-19.
“This immediate financial support has provided valuable protection to employees throughout the pandemic.”
“If the Act, and accompanying regulation are repealed in full, employees could feel that they will be out of pocket if they are required to self-isolate due to Covid-19.
“Whilst many employees are now vaccinated, they may still contract Covid-19 and be required to self-isolate.
“The implications of this could be particularly significant as we head into the uncertainty of winter.”
Health authorities warned Britons face a dangerous winter, with the heat which suppressed Covid in summer now rapidly dissipating.
Some experts believe spending increased time indoors with family members or friends amid the pared-back restrictions will provide ample opportunity for the disease to spread.
Caseloads in the UK are higher than those throughout most of Europe, with 30,000 or more a day and several hundred hospitalisations and deaths.
A higher caseload could see hospitals overwhelmed again, forcing the Government to step in and help decrease the load with complementary emergency measures.
But Sarah Rowland-Jones, an immunologist at Oxford University, told WIRED fewer people require intensive care, mostly the unvaccinated.
If cases don’t increase, England will continue to live a restriction-light existence and while this could change at the drop of a hat, campaigners believe the Covid Act isn’t necessary during “normal” life.
Simon Dolan, an entrepreneur and businessman, is one of them.
He was among the first figures to lead the charge against the bill when it first sprung into action last year.
Test and Trace cost £19bn MORE than Home Office – ANALYSIS
The next epidemic is set to hit the UK by 2030 warns expert – symptoms – INSIGHT
Autumn budget: 5 announcements Rishi Sunak is expected to make – EXPLAINER
Mr Dolan launched a high-profile legal battle with the Government in 2020, hoping to end the first lockdown, but was ultimately unsuccessful.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Dolan came out vehemently against the act once more, advocating for a swift repeal next week.
He said: “I find it abhorrent that the need for The Coronavirus Act is even up for debate.
“This huge expansion of state power was rushed through Parliament in just three days at the start of the pandemic, giving arbitrary powers to the police, immigration officers and public health officials.”
“Essentially, the act has brought about the greatest loss of liberty in the history of our country.
“Now 18 months and ‘Freedom Day’ have passed, I struggle to understand how Government Ministers can claim these emergency powers are still necessary if British citizens are supposedly now living a normal life?
“Sadly, I suspect the only reason they want to keep The Coronavirus Act in place, is that they can introduce new legislation at the drop of a hat, without any form of Parliamentary scrutiny.
“If this Act is not repealed, masks, social distancing and other measures detrimental to society could be reintroduced tomorrow, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. It’s a worrying state of affairs.”
Source: Read Full Article