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Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020


3.The purpose of the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act (“the Act”) is to respond to the emergency situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Act complements and supplements the Coronavirus Act 2020 (“the 2020 Act”), passed by the UK Parliament on 25 March 2020, and which the Scottish Parliament gave its consent to on 24 March 2020.

4.The coronavirus outbreak is a severe and sustained threat to human life in Scotland. The Scottish Government is committed to taking all steps necessary to address that threat. A severe pandemic could infect a large proportion of the population, and the public health measures required to control and limit the spread of the outbreak require business and public authorities to operate very differently to the way they have done until now by implementing, for example, social distancing policies, or by requiring their workforce to work from home, where possible. In addition the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 (S.S.I. 2020/103) (“the 2020 Regulations”) have required the closure of businesses selling food or drink for consumption on the premises, and of a wide range of other business set out in the regulations to protect against risks to public health. The 2020 Regulations also prohibit those living in Scotland from leaving the place where they live without reasonable excuse, and ban public gatherings of more than two people. The requirements and restrictions in the 2020 Regulations will continue until they are terminated by the Scottish Ministers by direction, or until they expire under regulation 11 of the 2020 Regulations.

5.The Scottish Government considers that in order for essential public services to continue to be able to discharge their functions in the way they were intended to, some temporary changes need to be made to the way they operate and the way that they are regulated. In addition, the Scottish Government considers that further support and flexibility for business, and for those using public services, is necessary to reflect new restrictions, in both guidance and legislation, on the way people can live and work.

6.The Scottish Government also intends the Act to address the needs of central and local government, and those involved in health and social care, in their response to the pandemic. In many cases, these services are now planning for an extended period when much larger numbers of their staff will be unable to work due to following public health guidance, which could require self-isolation, due to increased levels of illness, or due to caring responsibilities increased by or associated with the coronavirus outbreak. In many cases, central and local government, the health and social care sector, and other public services are having to re-deploy substantial parts of their workforce temporarily, or re-prioritise work across their functions and responsibilities, in order to focus on work which responds to the coronavirus outbreak and which protects the health of people living and working in Scotland.

7.The Scottish Government considers that this unexpected shift in resourcing and prioritisation will require a number of the obligations and duties on public services in Scotland to be adjusted temporarily, to reflect the importance which the Scottish Government places on responding to the coronavirus outbreak, and protecting the health of people living in Scotland.

8.To support these aims, the Act takes the following measures:

  • it makes adjustments to the law on evictions to protect those renting their homes during the coronavirus outbreak;

  • it makes adjustments to criminal procedure, and to other aspects of the justice system, to ensure that essential justice business can continue to be disposed of throughout the coronavirus outbreak;

  • it makes a range of provision designed to ensure that business and public services can continue to operate effectively during a period where controls on movements have been imposed, and when pressures on public services are acute.

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Text created by the Scottish Government to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Acts of the Scottish Parliament except those which result from Budget Bills.


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