In a landslide vote, the Coronavirus Act 2020 has officially been extended till October 2021.
Those in support of the extension, say these measures have been taken to ensure that the government can have greater control over the pandemic, but the opposition thinks otherwise. Mark Harper, MP for the Forest of Dean, voted against the bill and said:
My own quarrel is the pace, not the direction of travel.There will be jobs that are lost, businesses that fail, and people who find the personal burden incredibly difficult, who don’t need to go through that for another two months if we were to reopen safely earlier.
However, ministers who voted for the extension declared that the lockdown roadmap outlined in the previous month will be followed.
Government’s lockdown roadmap
Last month, the government announced new COVID rules in England, including a step system which was established to slowly ease the restrictions in the country.
Step 1, beginning on Monday, 29 March, will permit outdoor gatherings with a maximum of six people, while indoor meetings will be restricted to two.
Step 2, expected to start after 12 April, will allow non-essential shops, libraries, gyms, hairdressers, and outdoor hospitality areas to open up again.
The rules will be eased again during Step 3, after 17 May, where indoor gatherings with six people will be permitted, and outdoor gatherings will be capped at 30 attendees.
Will the extension affect the plan to ease restrictions?
Originally these rules were supposed to be in place until 30 June, but the extension of the COVID laws could prolong this date.
Furthermore, this decision has opened up the possibility that the Coronavirus Act 2020 could be here to stay for a longer period of time.
Health Secretary, Matt Hancock said:
But I cannot answer whether we will be retiring it in six months. My preference would be yes, but given the last year, I think a prediction would be hasty.