The Government’s response to COVID-19: human rights implications Contents



1 Introduction

Protecting the right to life during the Covid-19 pandemic

The Joint Committee on Human Rights’ work on the Government’s response to Covid-19 and human rights

This report

2 The legal framework

The necessity to act and the human rights framework

The domestic legislative framework pre-Covid-19

Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984

Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 (now revoked)

The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 & Part 2 Regulations

Coronavirus Act 2020 – overview

The Lockdown Regulations – overview

3 The Lockdown Regulations

The England-wide lockdown regulations

The local lockdown regulations

Ambiguity and mixed messaging

Discrepancy between guidance and regulations

Restrictions announced before legislation in force

Lack of clarity from ministers

Difference between parts of the UK

Public understanding

Policing and prosecution issues

Use of Fixed Penalty Notices

Demonstrations and lockdown

4 Health and Care

The Right to Life, and the Right to Health

Other human rights instruments

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and protection for workers

Advance care planning and Do Not Attempt Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation Notices

Healthcare decision-making

Changes to social care legislation in the Coronavirus Act 2020

Care Act 2014

Children’s social care

Care homes

5 Detention

Prisons, young offender institutions and secure training centres

Lockdown conditions and solitary confinement




Mothers in prison

Detention of young people who are autistic and/or have learning disabilities

Mental Health Detention

The Coronavirus Act amendments to the Mental Health Act

The Mental Health Tribunal

Deprivation of Liberty under the Mental Capacity Act 2005

Visiting in care homes

Immigration detention

Releasing individuals from immigration detention

Conditions in immigration detention

Powers Relating to Potentially Infectious Persons


New offences

6 Contact Tracing

The context of the contact tracing system

The Committee’s work on the contact tracing app

Privacy and discrimination concerns

Manual contact tracing

Digital contact tracing

7 Children and the right to education

School closures and the right to education

Widening inequalities

Children with special educational needs and disabilities

8 Access to Justice

Investigatory Powers

Expansion of live link technology in court proceedings

9 Procedural obligations to protect the right to life

How the right to life is protected in the UK: the procedural obligations

Interim lessons learned review to save lives

The need for an Article 2 compliant inquiry

10 Accountability and scrutiny

The Coronavirus Act 2020

Use of statutory instruments

Statements to Parliament

Conclusions and recommendations

Annex: Lockdown regulations in respect of England

Declaration of Interests

Formal minutes


Published written evidence

List of Reports from the Committee during the current Parliament

Published: 21 September 2020