Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has spoken about the one-year anniversary of lockdown ahead of a vote on renewing the Coronavirus Act. On the 20th March last year Mr Carmichael met with the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, alongside other senior opposition MPs, to discuss the Government’s response to the spread of coronavirus. MPs met in 10 Downing Street for talks relating to an emergency bill to respond to the disease, which became the Coronavirus Act.
Critics argue that a year after the Act’s implementation there is a need for it to be repealed and replaced with legislation which better respects civil liberties – Mr Carmichael has backed Liberty’s “Protect Everyone” Bill as an alternative.
Mr Carmichael said:
“When party leaders met last year none of us could have imagined that the restrictions envisaged at the time would last for over a year. When the Coronavirus Act was passed last spring we had no idea of the course the pandemic would take. Now that we know more, it is time to repeal and replace the Coronavirus Act so that civil liberties are better protected, even while we continue to reduce the spread of the virus.”
“What I am struck by, looking back, is the strong desire for everyone to pull together regardless of party. That is something that was gradually lost over the following months but it is worth reflecting on the value of cooperation during a time of crisis. Many constituents had urgent problems during the early weeks of the pandemic and open communication with ministers and civil servants was enormously important.
“At the time I raised with the Prime Minister the issue of small businesses, the self-employed and community organisations as some of the most vulnerable to the financial impact of the pandemic. Those concerns were desperate at the time and while financial backing given by the Government has been valuable for many, it is frustrating that even a year later, millions have continued to be left out of support. As we attempt to rebuild our economy it is vital that we give everyone the best possible opportunity to succeed.”