Legislation will bolster COVID-19 response.
New measures contained in the UK Coronavirus Bill will help enhance Scotland’s response to COVID-19 and strengthen frontline services.
Constitution Secretary Michael Russell said the Bill, introduced into the UK Parliament today, followed close co-operation with the devolved administrations and was required because of “extraordinary public health and economic challenges posed by the pandemic”.
It covers both reserved and devolved matters and will enable the Scottish Government to bring more health professionals and social workers into the workforce, relax regulations to ease the burden on frontline staff, and take steps to help slow the spread of the virus. It grants new powers to cancel events and allow the police to compel potentially infectious people to undergo COVID-19 screening and assessment.
In a statement to the Scottish Parliament, Mr Russell said:
“We are, as a country and across the globe, facing an unprecedented set of challenges. Every life will change.
“This Bill is the result of a great deal of intensive work between the UK Government and the devolved administrations and is required because of the extraordinary public health and economic challenges posed by the pandemic. The Scottish Government will recommend granting legislative consent.
“I should emphasise these measures are temporary and will only be used if required. I make a commitment that we will institute, after discussion across the Scottish Parliament, appropriate reporting on how and when the powers in the Bill have been used by the Scottish Government.
“We must put in place what we need to do the right thing for everyone and take action to protect, to enhance and to strengthen not just our response, but ourselves.
“Together we can and will win through.”
Constitution Secretary Michael Russell’s statement to the Scottish Parliament is available on the Scottish Government website.
It is intended that the Legislative Consent Motion for the Coronavirus Bill will be debated by the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, 24 March, subject to Parliament’s agreement.
The Scottish Government will bring forward its own emergency Coronavirus legislation, covering devolved matters, shortly.
The Coronavirus Bill can be viewed on the UK Parliament website.