Thank you for your email about the Coronavirus Act 2020.
The Coronavirus Act was enacted in March as part of the national effort to fight COVID-19. It provides the government with the powers necessary to slow the spread of the virus, save lives and protect our NHS.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have received many emails from concerned constituents in the run-up to the six-month renewal of the Coronavirus Act. I understand that people have strong views on this issue, and I understand why.
For many months, our freedom to meet with friends and family, to attend cultural and social events, and to travel without constraint across the UK and beyond has been restricted. Life as we know it has had to change and the sacrifices many people have had to make in order to slow the spread of the virus have been immeasurable.
The Coronavirus pandemic has placed huge additional pressures on our already-stretched local authority social care services. I want to make it clear that Labour do not believe that the provision in the Coronavirus Act to potentially reduce people’s social care support packages is the right course of action, and we have made our position clear to the government.
From the time the pandemic was declared and still now, the Labour Party have always sought to act in a way that both protects our human rights and prevents unnecessary deaths.
Many people have expressed to me their concerns about the open-ended nature of the Act. In March, Labour were similarly worried. That is why we successfully added an amendment to the Act which means that it must be reviewed in Parliament every six months.
The government have wasted this summer. Instead of getting a grip on the virus, they have lost control of it. We have all been let down by this government and we must now all live with the consequences of their incompetence.
Labour have three key demands when it comes to the government’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic. We want the government to oversee an effective and robust ‘Test and Trace’ system, communicate better with the public about public health, and act now in order to prevent a jobs crisis later. Until these demands have been met, the continuation of the Coronavirus Act remains necessary.
With infection rates rising across the country, we must ensure that we are doing all that we can to stop the spread of the virus, especially as we approach the winter. We need to continue to follow the latest rules and guidance, particularly in areas where local lockdown measures have been imposed. However, in order for people to be policed by consent, they must firstly be aware of the rules and secondly understand their purpose.
I sincerely hope that you and your family are keeping safe and well during these difficult times. Thank you again for contacting me about this important issue and if you have any further points you would like to raise, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
The Rt Hon. Emily Thornberry MP
Islington South and Finsbury