Powers relating to potentially infectious persons
87 The Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 were made and came into force on 10th February 2020, and provide for the detention, isolation and screening of, and other appropriate restrictions to be imposed upon, persons who have or may have coronavirus, or who have arrived in England from an area in which the virus is prevalent. The Regulations apply only in relation to England, and where the Secretary of State has made a declaration that the incidence or transmission of novel Coronavirus constitutes a serious and imminent threat to public health (such declaration was made on 10th February 2020), and where the measures outlined in the Regulations are considered as an effective means of delaying or preventing further transmission of the virus.
88 The Bill will include similar provisions for the screening and isolation of certain persons, including powers to impose other restrictions and requirements, and will revoke the Regulations. In this way:
a. there will be a consistent, UK-wide approach, since the provisions will be capable of applying not only in England, but to the UK as a whole;
b. enforcement provisions for immigration officers (including Border Force officers) can be included, since these officers act across the UK.
89 We assume that the vast majority of people will comply with relevant public health advice. The policy aim of these provisions is to ensure that proportionate measures can be enforced if and when necessary. The proposals will provide public health officer, constables and (in some circumstances) immigration officers with the means to enforce sensible public health restrictions, including returning people to places that they have been required to stay. Where necessary and proportionate, constables and immigration officers will be able to direct individuals to attend, remove them to, or keep them at suitable locations for screening and assessment. These measures look to fill existing gaps in powers to ensure the screening and isolation of people who may be infected or contaminated with the virus and to ensure that constables can enforce health protection measures where necessary.