Legal footing for national unlocking in England

March 29, 2021

England’s government has set out regulations paving the way to the easing of all restrictions from 21 June, along with proposals to maintain support for the most vulnerable, businesses and public services.

Government support packages such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and Self-Employed Income Support Scheme have been rapidly rolled out under the Coronavirus Act.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps) (England) Regulations 2021 mean that from 29 March outdoor gatherings of either 6 people or 2 households will be allowed including in private gardens.

 

Review

The government has been clear that the roadmap out of lockdown is cautious, but irreversible. It sets out which measures must continue in order to protect the hard-won progress and ensure the nation can meet the four tests which will allow further unlocking to take place. A full review will be conducted in advance of moving to step 2 of the roadmap which will be 12 April.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “We are setting out the legal foundations which deliver the roadmap out of lockdown.

“These measures have been vital to reducing infections, hospital admissions and deaths across the country, and thanks to people’s commitment and support, we have made strong progress.

“We are rightly ending as many national measures as safely as possible, while maintaining those which remain necessary and proportionate to help reduce and control infections further as we cautiously but irreversibly ease restrictions and our historic vaccination programme continues apace.”

The regulations replace the ‘all tiers’ regulations which were made to enact the tier system at the end of last year.

 

Background

A total of 12 provisions will be removed completely from the Coronavirus Act. This is in addition to the mental health powers that were removed in December for England:

 

In addition, the following 3 provisions will also be suspended:

 

Vote

On 25 March, MPs have voted to extend the emergency coronavirus laws for another six months. A total of 484 MPs were for the motion, with 76 against giving a majority of 408.

 

This is valid as of 29th March 2021.

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