Coronavirus emergency measures extended to March as new bill passed
A bill extending the emergency measures to handle the coronavirus epidemic has been passed by MSPs on the last day of parliament before the summer recess.
The Coronavirus (Extension and Expiry) (Scotland) Bill was voted for by MSPs after just three days of scrutiny.
The legislation extends emergency measures beyond the original expiry date of 30 September 2021 to 31 March 2022, although some measures that from the previous two coronavirus acts that are no longer necessary have been removed through the new bill.
The bill includes temporary measures to enable the court system to continue to operate, measures to keep businesses and public services running and the continuation of temporary changes to the law for debtors and tenants facing financial hardship.
It adds reporting on evictions and tenants’ rights to existing bi-monthly requirements on the Scottish Government.
A one-off reporting requirement has also been added on wedding and civil partnership ceremonies, support to help business, social security support for carers and social care services one month after the bill gains royal assent.
Measures expired by the legislation include emergency operational measures for children’s hearings and child protection, ‘stop the clock’ measures on the duration of guardianship orders and certificates authorising medical treatment for adults with incapacity, power to accelerate scrutiny of regulations, power to prevent the public attending in person local authority meetings and alcohol licensing hearings, and admissibility of evidence by statement.
Deputy First Minister and COVID Recovery Secretary John Swinney said: “Having the bill agreed today by the parliament leaves appropriate time for the bill to receive royal assent early in August and my officials will use that time to make sure all necessary guidance is updated and made available to stakeholders and the public more widely so it is clear to all which provisions parliament has decided should remain available beyond the end of September and which ones will be expiring at that time.
“I thank members of parliament for the way in which they have engaged in the process to enhance the legislation, to advance issues that were of importance to members, and to ensure that we have the correct statutory framework in place to deal with what is an ongoing threat that we face from coronavirus.”