This is the twelfth 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.
As this report is published, we are seeing the phasing out of many of the restrictions and legal requirements that have so severely impacted our lives for the past two years. However, we remain in a challenging situation and continue to assess the data carefully to ensure we have the right measures in place to suppress the extent and the impact of coronavirus on our communities. The COVID-19 Strategic Framework was published in February and sets out our evolving approach to managing the pandemic in the longer term as we prepare for a calmer phase in the pandemic and seek to sustain it. The Framework makes it clear that 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, whilst retaining the ability to take decisive action to deal with future outbreaks.
As we move forward in our handling of COVID-19, the measures we take to protect the public will continue to be reviewed to ensure they are appropriate, and we are committed to doing this transparently. 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 twelfth report – statement by Ministers on necessity and status of provisions
This twelfth coronavirus report covers the period from 1 February to 31 March 2022. 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.
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 twelfth report.
John Swinney MSP
Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Covid Recovery
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