This is the thirteenth 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. This report is the latest in our regular reporting on coronavirus-related legislation to ensure that the Scottish Parliament has oversight of the legislation, allowing it to hold the Scottish Ministers to account for their use of the powers available to them, and is important as part of our commitment to transparency.
Continued importance of the Coronavirus Acts
COVID-19 is first and foremost a public health crisis, and the measures to combat it have been necessary to save lives and livelihoods. The measures introduced by the Scottish Coronavirus Acts 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.
In Scotland (and the rest of the UK), the situation has been stable and improving with cases, hospitalisations and deaths all falling. Since the last report, we have seen the removal of the restrictions and legal requirements at a national level that have been in place for much of the last two years. Thanks to the progress in vaccination and treatments – we intend to rely much less on legal requirements going forwards and much more on people and organisations taking basic, sensible steps to reduce the risk of and harm from COVID-19. 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 the pandemic in the longer term.
As we move forward we will 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 crisis and, in parallel, as we collectively press forward with the recovery and transformation of our public services and rebuild for a better future.
Parts of both the UK and Scottish Coronavirus Acts expired in March 2022, and details on this are included in section 5 of this report. We continue to be committed to only retaining legislative provisions where they are necessary and appropriate.
Ministers’ review of the Thirteenth report – statement by Ministers on necessity and status of provisions
This thirteenth coronavirus report covers the period from 1 April to 31 May 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, in order to consider whether the provisions remain necessary. Ministers are satisfied that the status of those provisions at the end of this reporting period is appropriate, and will continue to keep this under review going forwards as we continue to move towards recovery from COVID-19.
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 opportunity to continue to update the Scottish Parliament on the operation of the Coronavirus Acts and continue to stand ready to engage with the Parliament in its scrutiny of this Thirteenth report.
John Swinney MSP
Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Covid Recovery
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