LONDON (Reuters) - Britain set out on Tuesday the details of emergency legislation to give the government increased powers to tackle the spread of coronavirus.
The powers will be temporary, limited to two years, and the government has said it will only use the measures if and when they are needed.
Below is a summary of the key measures included in the emergency bill, which will be introduced to parliament on Thursday and which the government hopes will become law by the end of the month:
- Give people greater employment safeguards so they can leave their main jobs and temporarily volunteer to help the health and social care system without losing their jobs.
- These volunteers will be able to pause their main jobs for up to four weeks and will receive a flat rate of compensation to mitigate lost earnings and expenses.
- There will be emergency registration for retired health professionals and those who return to work will not have their pensions negatively impacted. Students near the end of their training may also be registered.
- National Health Service staff will be covered by a state-backed insurance scheme to ensure they can care for patients if they are moving outside their day-to-day duties.
- Paperwork and administrative requirements will be reduced to help doctors discharge patients more quickly to free up hospital space for those who are very ill.
- Police and immigration officers will be given powers to detain people and put them in appropriate isolation facilities if necessary to protect public health.
- The law will enable the Border Force to temporarily suspend operations at airports or transport hubs if there are insufficient resources to maintain border security.
- Relax requirements for schools and childcare providers such as reducing teacher ratios.
- The law will provide the power to close educational establishments or childcare providers.
- The law will enable statutory sick pay for those self-isolating without symptoms from day one, instead of day three.
- It will allow small businesses to reclaim statutory sick pay payments from the government.
- Expansion of video hearings in courts including allowing some civil proceedings in lower courts to be conducted via telephone or video, as well as the expansion of audio and video live links in various criminal proceedings.
- It will enable the government to restrict or prohibit events and gatherings in any place.
- The law will expand the list of people who can register a death to include funeral directors acting on behalf of the family.
- It will also enable electronic transmission of documents that currently have to be physically presented in order to certify the registration of a death.
- It will relax the requirements to notify coroners over deaths.
- It will also give local authorities the power to increase the operating times of crematoriums, direct companies to use their vehicles to move bodies, or direct others not directly involved in the funeral sector to provide support.
Reporting by Kylie MacLellan, editing by Elizabeth Piper