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EDINBURGH, Scotland (LifeSiteNews) – The Scottish government published a proposal to extend temporary powers to lock down the country, including the ability to close schools and impose mask mandates permanently.
Under current emergency powers granted to the incumbent Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP), led by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the government is able to enact temporary laws forcing businesses and educational establishments to close their doors, as well as release prisoners from incarceration early, if ministers deem the cause “necessary and proportionate.”
A new consultation has been established to “seek the public’s views” on extending a host of ministerial powers in relation to public health measures far beyond their March 2022 expiration, with proposals such as “prohibiting or limiting numbers at gatherings, introducing lockdown measures, and requiring that face coverings are worn” set to become permanent fixtures in Scottish public life.
The proposal determines that Scottish Ministers should be given “the same powers to protect the people of Scotland from any incidence or spread of infection or contamination which presents or could present significant harm to human health in Scotland, not just COVID.”
John Swinney, Scotland’s deputy first minister and cabinet secretary for COVID recovery, announced that some measures thought to no longer be necessary for public health will be removed at the March 2022 expiration, but insisted that others should be kept “where there is demonstrable benefit to the people of Scotland.”
“This is an opportunity to maintain changes that have been welcomed by people who now don’t want to lose transformations that have been innovative, beneficial, and increased access to service,” Swinney added. The consultation is to last 12 weeks, closing on November 9.
Under the banner of attempting to “protect Scotland against future public health threats,” the government has sought to enshrine “powers to make directions to close educational establishments” that would allow legislators to close schools “during the remainder of the pandemic” and, indeed, at any future date in which keeping them open is considered a threat to public health by the chief medical officer.
“In the event of a future pandemic, the broad nature of the powers will provide ministers with the flexibility to take the action needed to address the specific circumstances of the health emergency,” which will allegedly “control transmission” of infectious diseases, the consultation document reads.
Elsewhere, the consultation requests that powers be given to the government to grant early release to some prisoners “where it is considered a necessary and proportionate action to maintain the safe and effective operation of prisons, and to protect the health of prison staff and prisoners.”
Regarding the implementation of vaccination programs, the government has proposed that the relaxation on those who are permitted to administer the jabs be extended indefinitely. This would allow “nurses, midwives and paramedics” to be enlisted as vaccinators for COVID jabs as well as other “routine” vaccinations, such as those against the flu, “to make it easier to quickly protect the population from infectious disease,” the consultation suggested.
Opposition party members criticized the proposals, with Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser characterizing the effort as “a dangerous route to go down,” according to a report in The Times. Fraser, who is the COVID recovery spokesman for the Scottish Tories, said the extension of special powers during the coronavirus crisis “were intended to be temporary measures to deal with the pandemic.”
“The fact that SNP ministers are now seeking to make many of them permanent is a clear sign they are unwilling to give up their control over people’s lives,” he continued.
“With the vast majority of COVID restrictions having now been eased, Scots will be asking serious questions over why these laws would need to remain in place permanently. It is a dangerous route to go down to allow ministers to implement sweeping powers upon society on a whim.”
The current emergency powers were set to expire September 30, but Sturgeon’s party managed to push through a six-month extension just weeks before Parliament closed for its summer recess at the end of June.
Swinney originally told MSPs that there would likely be a follow-up request to extend provisions by another six months, prolonging the emergency powers to September 2022, before setting out the proposal for no time limit on the provisions Tuesday.
Fraser noted that government had “already steamrolled” its previous request for an extension to emergency powers, “and now they’ve snuck this consultation out while it is still in recess.”
The government, he said, “are clearly keen to avoid scrutiny over their plans which would include releasing prisoners early and controlling how schools operate.”
“Yet again, the SNP are making rash decisions over COVID related laws, when the focus should be on accelerating our recovery from the pandemic.”