Coronavirus (or Covid-19 if you’re feeling bougie) has already massively changed the way we live; and she’s not going away anytime soon.
We know you’re probably stressed about being able to still see elderly relatives, or potentially school/university education having been massively disrupted. But Parliament is currently looking at voting on a new piece of emergency legislation that could have a huge impact on everyone.
To save you reading three-hundred pages, Naked Politics has broken down what exactly these new laws could mean for young people, keeping it simple and straight to the point (because you don’t have time to waste. All that Netflix isn’t going to watch itself).
As it stands, cafes, bars and clubs have been told to close. This new legislation would give ministers the power to force the owner of a venue or an organiser of the event to cancel, close down or restrict access. If they don’t close, they could be fined.
Basically, we’re staying indoors and not socialising IRL for a long time.
We’ve already had a significant change, with schools having been advised to be closed to most pupils, only staying open for those children who absolutely need to attend. The new laws would give the government more powers to restrict school attendance even further.
You no longer need an assessment from two doctors, just one to determine if you need to be detained due to mental health issues. This is likely to increase the likelihood of racial bias; black people are disproportionately detained, as well as other ethnic groups. This could significantly increase the number of young BME (Black and minority ethnic people) unfairly detained.
Increased police and immigration powers
Police, public health and immigration officers will be able to detain people they suspect of having the virus, and fine people up to £1,000 if they refuse. They will also be able to force potentially infected people to self isolate, send people for testing and hold them for a period of time if there is a “risk of serious and imminent threat to public health”.
This gives them a whole lot of power to make very subjective decisions that could potentially be abused. Yikes.
If you’re ill you will have to be paid by your employer from the first day you’re ill, rather than the fourth as it stands at the moment. However, this will only be the case if you’re employed by an organisation or business. If you’re a young freelancer (and we absolutely love to see self-employed young people!) you won’t be covered. So you effectively don’t have a safety net from the government, despite being unable to work. This has resulted in some freelancers having to set up crowdfunder to continue earning an income.
How long would these measures be in place?
This is probably one of the most controversial aspects about this emergency bill. We don’t know how long this pandemic will go on for, but these emergency laws if they get voted through parliament would be in place for 2 years. MP for Hackney Diane Abbott has questioned why we would need these measures in place for two years if the “tide could be turned in 12 weeks” as Boris Johnson said last week.
The government has proposed including a law that means they have to review these laws every six months, to check if they are still needed.
That’s A LOT potentially going on. If you’re concerned about anything we’ve outlined, hit up your Member of Parliament and let them know so they can try and represent your views. If you have any questions about what the latest health guidance is, head to the government website to find out more.