Ministers this week published the government’s review of Covid-19 rules ahead of a vote in Parliament.
But as well as extending the ability to run the furlough scheme – and the power to impose broader rules on the public – some rules will be allowed to expire after Easter.
The review sets out 15 measures which will be expired or suspended after Easter recess as they are no longer essential to the national response to COVID-19 – compiled here by Wales Online.
It also explains which measures of the Act will be retained.
A vote on Thursday will see the power to impose lockdown rules in England extended until October.
A Government spokesman said: “The Act ensured the NHS had the capacity to deal with the peak of the virus by allowing the temporary registration of nurses and other healthcare professionals.
“It provided courts with the ability to use video technology and it allowed the government to put in place support packages such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, which have provided a source of income for families and a lifeline for many businesses.
“It has also enabled businesses to access loan schemes, which have provided over £72 billion of support to businesses with over 1.5 million loans approved.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “We are today setting out the legal foundations which, if agreed by Parliament, will deliver the roadmap out of lockdown.
“These measures have been vital to reducing infections, hospital admissions and deaths across the country, and thanks to people’s commitment and support, we have made strong progress.
“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 regulations, if approved, will replace the ‘all tiers’ regulations which were made to enact the tier system at the end of last year.
A total of 12 provisions will be removed completely from the Coronavirus Act. This is in addition to the mental health powers that were removed in December for England:
- Emergency volunteers (Sections 8 and 9)
These provisions were intended to come into force should the delivery of health services be at risk as a result of the pandemic. Despite the significant workforce pressure in health and social care, other measures such as NHS Professionals, other agency and bank staff and the Bring Back Staff (BBS) scheme have been more appropriate to address the need for trained clinical staff. As such, these powers have not yet come into force
- Care Act easements (Section 15 – applies to England and Wales and will be expired for England)
Some duties to local authorities are relaxed under this section, allowing them to streamline assessment and charge for care retrospectively. There is strong stakeholder support to remove this provision. Eight local authorities in England have used the powers but the power has not been used since 29 June 2020
- Fingerprints and DNA profiles (Section 24 – applies to UK)
extension of time limits for retention of fingerprints and DNA profiles, allowing them to be held for an additional 6 months beyond normal deadlines. This power cannot be extended beyond the point the regulations expire in March without primary legislation.
- Food supply chains (Sections 25 to 29 – applies to UK)
Gives the power to require information such as food supply disruption if there is refusal to provide it voluntarily. The information has been provided voluntarily and is not needed
- Signatures of Treasury Commissioners (Section 71 – applies to UK)
Allows a single Commissioner of HMT to sign instruments and act on behalf of Commissioners, instead of requiring a signature from all Commissioners.
- Extension of Business Improvement Districts (BID) arrangements (Section 79 – applies to England) BIDs, local business partnerships established by voting, have now successfully completed ballots and 43 are due to introduce ballots before the expiry in March 2021
- Postponement of General Synod elections (Section 84 – applies to England)
Allows the Queen to postpone the dissolution of the General Synod of the Church of England and so to postpone elections to the General Synod
In addition, the following 3 provisions will also be suspended:
- Section 22 (applies to UK): appointment of temporary Judicial Commissioners (JCs)
- Section 23 (applies to UK): time limits in relation to, for example, urgent warrants under Investigatory Powers Act
- Section 58/schedule 2, part 2 (applies to UK and will be suspended in England): allows directions to be issued under part 2 if it was believed death management was not being organised correctly