The Speaker
Wednesday, 24 July 2024 – 23:16
UK Parliament 

MPs to vote on whether to extend emergency coronavirus powers

MPs in the House of Commons will be asked to vote later on whether to extend emergency coronavirus laws in England for another six months.

The Coronavirus Act came into force at the start of the pandemic in March 2020 and has given the government a wide range of powers that would not usually exist in normal times. Under the powers, the Government has been able to close pubs, retail and other venues and setup enforcement efforts to try and contain the virus.

This afternoon, MPs will be asked to extend the legislation until the end of September, with the Government arguing that the powers are still necessary as lockdown measures ease in the UK and an increasing number of people are vaccinated against COVID-19.

It is anticipated that Labour and most Conservative MPs will support the extension to the legislation, meaning it should pass through the Commons without any major hiccups. There are though some MPs and groups including the lockdown sceptic COVID Recovery Group that have indicated they will not support the extension, raising concerns over the continued restrictions on people’s lives and strict policing of lockdown rules.

A number of amendments have been tabled, including one to suspend some police powers that are included in the legislation.

Coronavirus case rates in England are currently at roughly the same rates as last September and much lower than during the peak of cases at the start of this year. Some have argued that lockdown measures should be eased quicker, with most people aged over 50 now having received a first COVID vaccine dose in the UK. However, ministers have called for caution, with concerns that moving too quickly could allow a third wave of the virus to take hold and lead to more hospitalisations and deaths.

MPs will also vote on England’s roadmap out of lockdown and the continuation of virtual proceedings in the House of Commons when it sits today.

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