Monday 23 March 2020 7:28 am

Coronavirus: PM to rush emergency legislation through the Commons

The Prime Minister is hoping to rush sweeping new coronavirus legislation through the House of Commons, as the country faces the prospect of a lockdown.

MPs will return to the Commons today to debate the government’s emergency coronavirus bill, which was set out last week.

Read more: Coronavirus: Boris Johnson officially announces quarantine of 1.5m people

Under the proposals, which would be time-limited for two years, recently retired NHS staff will return to work, court hearings will take place by phone or video, and funeral arrangements will be fast-tracked.

The bill will also give unprecedented powers to law enforcement agencies to detain people if they show coronavirus symptoms, and impose a £1,000 fine if they refuse to take a test.

The emergency coronavirus bill states: “We assume 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 debate comes after Boris Johnson warned the government was “very actively” considering tougher anti-virus measures over the next 24 hours, as pictures emerged on social media of people socialising in groups in parks yesterday.

Speaking on Sunday at Number 10’s daily news conference, the PM called on people to act “responsibly” and practice social distancing.

Read more: McDonalds, Topshop and New Look close stores due to coronavirus

“If we can’t do that then, yup, I’m afraid we’re going to have to bring forward tougher measures,” he said.

Over the weekend, the death toll in the UK increased by 104 to 281 while the number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose from 3,983 to 5,684 on Sunday.

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