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Tuesday, Oct 19, 2021

Boris Johnson to extend ‘draconian’ lockdown laws for six months

Boris Johnson to extend ‘draconian’ lockdown laws for six months

Boris Johnson has sparked fears of a winter lockdown with plans to extend "draconian" Covid powers for another six months, it’s been revealed.
The government has confirmed plans to renew some temporary powers under the 2020 Coronavirus Act.

But the plans will be opposed by Tory anti-lockdown MPs, 35 of whom rebelled last time the Act was extended.

The legislation gives authorities and police powers to regulate public gatherings, close premises, and force people to self-isolate.

They also include powers for the Health Secretary to shut down individual events, gatherings, shops or restaurants if they pose a particular risk.

But it also supports pandemic safety nets like protecting renters from eviction and ensuring sick-pay for people who are self-isolating.

Tory MP Mark Harper, of the Covid Recovery Group, said the Act contained “the most draconian detention powers in modern British legal history”.

He told the Financial Times: “Our vaccine rollout has been a huge success. We have seen a dramatic and welcome fall in people suffering from serious disease and death from Covid as a result.

“We are going to have to learn to live with this virus, and retaining sweeping powers of detention in the Coronavirus Act is not consistent with this.

“What justification can there be for extending these measures?”

Brent MP Dawn Butler said it was “wrong” for the Government “threatening to extend it again”.

“The Coronavirus Act is a blanket of draconian, unaccountable powers the Government has wrapped itself in,” she tweeted.

“It’s wrong that this Govt is threatening to extend again. It’s outdated and unfit for purpose. @uklabour & Tory rebels must vote against it’s time [to] replace it with something better, fairer and more transparent.”

Ex Cabinet minister David Davis added: "The Coronavirus Act contains some of the most draconian powers ever introduced in the UK.

"Thankfully, the crisis point of the pandemic has passed. So it is now time to roll back the extensive powers unwisely handed over to the State."

A Government spokesman said: “We will allow temporary powers in the Coronavirus Act to expire wherever possible, as we have at previous review points.

"However, it would be irresponsible to allow all temporary provisions to expire.

"Doing so would remove the government’s ability to protect renters from eviction, give sick pay to those self-isolating from day one, and direct schools to reopen where needed, for example.

"The British public would expect us to retain these powers in case they are needed through the winter."

The government has not confirmed which temporary provisions will be extended or when exactly a vote will take place.
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