Last Updated on March 14, 2020
The British government is set to give itself, the police, and medical professionals, sweeping emergency powers in order to deal with the coronavirus
The emergency legislation, seen by The Times, includes a raft of measures that the government intends to use to try and stop the spread of the coronavirus, also known as Covid-19, and are set to be pushed through Parliament within the next couple of weeks.
Police and immigration officers will be granted powers to detain anyone suspected of having the coronavirus “for a limited period.”
Ports could be closed if there are “insufficient resources” to maintain border security if too many customs and border officials fall sick.
“Any vehicle, train, vessel or aircraft” could be halted by the government at any point.
Burials and cremations will be sped up. “In a reasonable worst-case scenario the death management industry will be rapidly overwhelmed,” the government wrote in the draft. “There is a significant gap in body storage requirements to ensure we are prepared for the reasonable worst-case scenario.”
Mechanical diggers could be used to create mass graves and crematoriums could be opened 24 hours a day.
Private hospitals and hotels could be requisitioned by the NHS in order to deal with a mass overflow of patients, along with rules on the re-registration of doctors and other medical professionals who have retired being changed in order to bring more manpower into the system.
Senior health professionals will also be allowed to sign death certificates, instead of just doctors.
Other planned measures include:
- Temporary closures of bars, restaurants and pubs
- Banning mass gatherings
- Emergency manufacture of respirators
- Reducing level of care for elderly in care homes
- Relaxation of class size restrictions in schools
These are the latest moves put forward by the British government to deal with the coronavirus emergency, and are expected to stay in place for up to two years to deal with any potential future outbreaks. Earlier this week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson postponed the local and mayoral elections set to take place in May until 2021.
However, the government has yet to declare an official “state of emergency,” and have not used their powers under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 that would allow ministers to force through changes without needing Parliamentary approval.