UK passes COVID law: fines up to £10,000 for not self-isolating
LONDON, U.K, October 26, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) –MPs in the U.K Houses of Parliament have approved a bill allowing police to issue heavy fines and to use force on those whom they believe are not self-isolating due to COVID-19.
Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, issued the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Self-Isolation) (England) Regulations 2020, which came into force on September 28 in the U.K.
After growing anger amongst Parliament, Hancock promised MPs that they would be given permission to vote on the emergency powers which the government was using to tackle COVID-19. With the renewal of the Coronavirus Act at the end of September, October 22 marked the first time that MPs could have a say on the strict rules regarding self-isolation due to the virus.
In an incredible result, the bill was approved with 333 votes in favor and only 1 vote against coming from Sir Charles Walker, MP for Broxbourne. The vast majority of votes in favor of the bill came from the governing Conservative party, including from well-known Catholic MPs Jacob Ress-Mogg and Iain Duncan Smith. Prime Minister Boris Johnson did not vote. The entire Labour party (the U.K.’s major opposition party) abstained.
The self-isolation bill states that if someone has either tested positive for COVID-19, or come into close contact with someone else who has tested positive, or has a child who falls into either category, then they must self-isolate for up to 14 days.
Next the bill outlines how it will be enforced. If an “authorised person…has reasonable grounds to believe” that an individual is not self-isolating, he may “direct” or “remove” the person back to their place for self-isolation. The “authorised person…may use reasonable force, if necessary, in exercise of the power” in order to encourage or ensure compliance with the law.
The bill declares that an authorised person can be interpreted as widely as “a constable, a police community support officer, a person designated by the Secretary of State for the purposes of this regulation” or even “an officer designated by the relevant local authority for the purposes of this regulation.”
This particular clause was the source of concern for some in the House of Lords, with one member registering his distress: “Is that any officer of a local authority? Could it be a director of finance, a refuse collector or a traffic warden?” He continued: “the powers that the Government have given to a local authority…are far too wide…emergency regulation has to stop.”
In order “to maintain public health” and “public order”, these authorised persons can also issue heavy fines. The first fine for failing to self-isolate is set at £1,000; by the time of the fourth and for any future fines, the amount is £10,000.
The passing of the bill comes on the heels of the news of the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS) bill, which is likely to be approved soon. The CHIS bill would permit a large number of public authorities to commit crimes, if it was deemed necessary in the interests of preventing crime and disorder, or in the interests of national security and economic well-being.
Human rights groups have warned that the new CHIS bill does not expressly forbid murder, rape or torture, and could see the U.K. government ignore the Human Rights Act.
One of the many governmental departments to whom this provision is extended to, is the Department for Health and Social Care, for which Hancock is the government minister responsible.