Views sought on Bill to extend emergency Covid powers

Legislation would allow Scottish Government to close businesses and schools in the event of another pandemic.

Views sought on Bill to extend emergency Covid powers iStock

A Holyrood committee is seeking public views on legislation that would make emergency powers granted to the Scottish Government during the pandemic permanent.

The Covid-19 Recovery Committee is one of four panels of MSPs to scrutinise the Coronavirus (Recovery and Reform) (Scotland) Bill.

If passed, the legislation – which was described as a “power grab” by Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross on Tuesday – would allow the Scottish Government to close businesses and schools as a result of public health advice in the event of another pandemic.

Eviction protocols would also be extended, placing a greater responsibility on landlords to ensure procedures are followed and tenants know their rights.

The time limit on criminal proceedings would also be temporarily extended again to help manage the backlogs in courts.

Covid-19 Recovery Committee convener Siobhian Brown said: “This pandemic has impacted almost every aspect of our lives, from restrictions on how we live to mass vaccinations and significant changes in how public services are delivered.

“The threat of Covid-19 meant a great number of temporary, emergency legislative measures were introduced at speed, but with these measures due to expire in March 2022 the time is now to decide which of these in the Bill should be put in place permanently.

“We recognise the size and scope of this Bill mean a diverse range of people and organisations may wish to comment on it.

“That’s why respondents will have the option to complete a short survey where they can give their views on a specific aspect of the Bill, or a longer form, more detailed option is also available.

“The Scottish Government’s stated aim for the Bill is to support Scotland’s recovery from the pandemic but we want to make sure it does not go too far, and that any changes which are made permanent act to benefit the people of Scotland and ease pressure on the public services we all rely on.”

The consultation will be open until February 25.