Coronavirus Acts: fifteenth and final report to Scottish Parliament (October 2022)
This is the fifteenth and final two-monthly report on the Coronavirus Acts, in which the Scottish Government sets out the status and operation of the legislation necessary to respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
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This is the fifteenth and final two-monthly report on the Coronavirus Acts, in which the Scottish Government sets out the status and operation of the legislation that was necessary to respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The regular two-monthly reporting on coronavirus-related legislation has provided a key plank in the Scottish Government's accountability to Parliament for the retention and use of these powers, and is important as part of our commitment to transparency. The Scottish Government has been committed to only retaining legislative provisions where they are necessary and appropriate. Part 1 of both Scottish Acts expired at the end of 30 September 2022, along with the requirement to report on the status and operation of coronavirus legislation. This is therefore the final statutory report on the operation of the provisions.
As we have throughout the pandemic, the Scottish Ministers continue to be answerable to Parliament for how the Scottish Government has responded to the pandemic, including the use of statutory powers.
Coronavirus is first and foremost a public health threat, and the measures to combat it have been necessary to save lives and livelihoods. The temporary measures introduced by the Scottish Acts that have now expired were largely intended to ensure that public services could continue to discharge their duties effectively, whilst adhering to public health restrictions in an effort to limit the spread of the virus. As part of learning lessons from the coronavirus pandemic, some measures which originated in temporary Scottish and UK Coronavirus Acts have been made permanent by the Coronavirus (Recovery and Reform) (Scotland) Act 2022 ("the Recovery and Reform Act"). The Recovery and Reform Act contains changes in 35 legislative areas which help build resilience against future public health threats whilst ensuring strong parliamentary safeguards. It also embeds reforms in Scotland's public services and justice system that have delivered improvements for service users and improved efficiency. Furthermore, the Recovery and Reform Act continues certain temporary justice system provisions on a longer extension basis as a response to the impact of coronavirus on Scotland's justice system. While the Recovery and Reform Act makes 22 temporary measures permanent, this report highlights that around 60 temporary measures have now expired. Further information on coronavirus legislation including links to previous statutory reports can be found on the Coronavirus legislation webpage.
The latest ONS survey data shows that currently in Scotland, the estimated number of people testing positive for coronavirus is around 1 in 45. For many life has returned to near normal, however the virus has not gone away and therefore we ask people to continue to take basic, sensible steps in order to protect themselves and others. This less restrictive approach will support the broad recovery and better future that we all want to see. We know, however, that the threat of new variants that are potentially more harmful remains, and that we must be ready to respond effectively to such an eventuality so that we can mitigate the harm that might otherwise be caused. The COVID-19 Strategic Framework was published in February and sets out our approach to managing coronavirus in the longer term.
As we move forward we will continue to ensure that clear information is in place to help people and organisations make and sustain the changes required to reduce transmission of the virus on a routine basis. This will involve maintaining and enhancing some of the behaviours and physical adaptations that have helped reduce transmission and will help to improve public health more generally going forwards. More generally we will continue to work with sectors across the economy and broader society as we continue to mitigate the ongoing and accumulated harms of the pandemic and, in parallel, as we collectively press forward with the recovery and transformation of our public services.
Ministers' review of the fifteenth and final report – statement by Ministers on necessity and status of provisions
This fifteenth and final report covers the period from 1 August to 30 September 2022. The Scottish Ministers have undertaken a review of the provisions of Part 1 of the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 ("the first Scottish Act") and the Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Act 2020 ("the second Scottish Act), and the provisions of the Coronavirus Act 2020 ("the UK Act") for which the Scottish Parliament gave legislative consent. Ministers are satisfied that the status of those provisions at the end of this reporting period is that all the provisions in the Scottish Acts have expired (with some saving provision where that is appropriate) and all devolved temporary provisions of the UK Act have expired.
The Scottish Ministers have also undertaken a review of the Scottish Statutory Instruments (SSIs) to which section 14 of the second Scottish Act applies. Ministers are satisfied that the status of those SSIs at the end of the reporting period is appropriate.
I welcome this final opportunity to update the Scottish Parliament on the operation of the Coronavirus Acts and stand ready to engage with the Parliament in its scrutiny of this fifteenth and final report.
John Swinney MSP
Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Covid Recovery
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