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Coronavirus Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:01 pm on 23rd March 2020.

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Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock Secretary of State for Health and Social Care 4:01 pm, 23rd March 2020

I will look into those specific points. There are parts of the Bill that would help to tackle the problem my hon. Friend describes if it is appropriate to do so, but I think it is better if I get some medical advice and then get back to him.

The third part of the Bill contains measures to slow the spread of the virus. As the disease accelerates, our goal is to protect life, to protect the vulnerable and to protect the NHS by flattening the curve and minimising unnecessary social contact. This is a national effort, and everyone has their part to play—self-isolating if someone or anyone in their house has symptoms, working from home wherever possible, avoiding social gatherings and, of course, regularly washing your hands.

The Bill provides for us to go further: it gives us stronger powers to restrict or prohibit events and public gatherings and, where necessary, to shut down premises; and it gives the police and Border Force the power to isolate a person who is or may be infectious. This part of the Bill also allows us to close educational settings or childcare providers, and to postpone for one year elections that were due to take place in England in May. These are not measures anyone would want to take, but they are absolutely necessary in this crisis.