14.These Regulations amend the International Travel Regulations to redistribute into three categories the vocational exemptions from the self-isolation requirement for arrivals who have not been in a high-risk country in the previous 10 days. Those in Categories A and B (broadly for energy, infrastructure, medicines and sports roles, and non-UK residents employed in the transport sector) will now be required to self-isolate when not carrying out the relevant work activity. Those in Category C (mainly diplomats and security staff) remain exempt from the self-isolation requirement.
15.The Regulations also simplify the notification requirement for the negative test taken shortly before arriving in England. Feedback from stakeholders indicated that the majority of test certificates being presented did not give details of the type of the test device used. The change now only requires that the test used is a polymerase chain reaction test (which uses a nose or throat swab, or saliva alone and meets a very high standard.)
16.The Explanatory Memorandum (EM) provided with this instrument was particularly poor; we asked the Department for Transport to replace it immediately, and the Department has done so. We reiterate the point made in our Interim Report that when instruments are brought into effect immediately, it is even more important that their intention and effect are made clear to both Parliament and the public. The replacement EM makes it much clearer which vocational roles are exempt from the need to self-isolate and the House may wish to ask the rationale for the inclusion of certain groups.
17.This instrument makes a permanent change to broaden the existing arrangements for the supply of prescription items for pandemic disease or in other serious emergencies. It allows specified medicines to be issued free of charge either on prescription or in response to a patient group direction (PGD), a pandemic treatment protocol (PTP) or serious shortage protocol (SSP) authorised by the Department for Health and Social Care. This instrument also makes provision for pandemic supplies to be issued in response to a PGD where the pharmacy or dispensing doctor receives an approved electronic message, for example via a service linked to NHS 111.
18.These arrangements are intended to support maximum take-up of the treatment in question, make the distribution of the product easier, and limit the administrative burdens. The Regulations are being made now so that, if one of the current trials identifies a treatment for COVID-19 that is suitable for use outside hospitals, the medicine can be rapidly distributed.
19.These Rules insert a new rule 36.3 into the Family Procedure Rules 2010. This is a permanent change to enable procedure to be modified or disapplied by Practice Directions during a public emergency such as the coronavirus pandemic. (This mirrors a change already made by new rule 51.3 in the Civil Procedure Rules 1998.) The instrument also corrects an error in rule 6.43, which makes provision for cases where documents are to be served on a respondent outside of the UK.
20.This instrument further extends, until the end of 31 March 2021, existing restrictions on the enforcement of evictions of residential tenants. The last iteration, the Public Health (Coronavirus) (Protection from Eviction) (England) Regulations 2021, expired on 21 February 2021 and restricted evictions to unoccupied premises, trespassers, tenants with anti-social behaviour or rent arrears of at least six months. These restrictions have been extended incrementally during the pandemic to prevent evictions at a time of high infection and to avoid overburdening local authorities.
8 Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) Regulations 2020 ().
9 , 39th Report, Session 2019-21 (HL Paper 200).
10 Family Procedure Rules 2010 (.
11 Public Health (Coronavirus) (Protection from Eviction) (England) Regulations 2021 ().