To provide justification as to why temporary legislation - legislation passed solely on the basis of the alleged seriousness of coronavirus - is now being made permanent for any/every potential infection/contamination (in light of the temporary nature of the Coronavirus Act 2020).
The answer to your question is that, given the likelihood that Covid will not be the last public health threat that Scotland will face, the Scottish Government proposed that those powers that played a particularly significant role in managing the Covid response should be available permanently on the Scottish statute book. The public health provisions in the Coronavirus (Recovery and Reform) Scotland) Act 2022 bring Scotland in line with England and Wales, who have had similar powers for over a decade. They are precautionary and designed so that Scottish Ministers can respond to significant public health threats rapidly, flexibly and proportionately.
The powers have been subject to full Parliamentary scrutiny, and a number of significant safeguards have been included to ensure there is a balance between protecting public health and safeguarding individual rights. Indeed, many of the particular provisions you highlight, such as a national lockdown, can never be imposed directly by regulations, and could also only be imposed if the threat faced is serious and imminent. More generally, Parliament must approve a public health declaration before any public health regulations under the Act can be laid in direct response to a threat. In practice, this means that many of the measures that were taken in direct response to Covid could only be taken in the future if Parliament approved a public health declaration. There is no comparable provision in the English and Wales legislation, demonstrating the Scottish Government’s commitment to strengthening the role of Parliament in these important and consequential decisions.
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
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