Emergency Scots Covid laws extended to next March

Emergency Coronavirus laws in Scotland are to be extended until the end of March next year, MSPs have been told.

Michael Russell says Covid laws will be extended

The measures included in the laws rushed through at Holyrood at the height of the pandemic allows police in Scotland to issue fixed penalty notices for breaches of lockdown. It also prvented tenants being evicted during the lockdown if they are unable to pay rent.

Constitution Secretary Mike Russell told MSPs today that some of the measures will be allowed to "expire" at the end of September, but much of the legislation will be extended.

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Scotland is currently in phase 3 of its exit from Coronavirus, but there have been some local outbreaks since the return of pubs, restaurants and cafes, including a local lockdown in Aberdeen.

Emergency legislation to crack down on breaches of lockdown rules was introduced via one UK-wide piece of legislation and two Scottish Acts.

Mr Russell told MSPs today that the legislation must remain in place because of the continuing "severe public health and economic challenges" posed by the pandemic.

"Before the end of this month, we will lay regulations which will, with Parliament's agreement seek to extend the Scottish Acts, from 30 September 2020 until 31 March 2021.

"However, we will also lay at the same time regualtions which will expire certain provisions within the legislation which we deem are no longer needed."

He added that work will contiue to reach a "final position" on this in the weeks ahead.

But the lack clarity about which measures will be extended came under from Shelter Scotland Director Alison Watson.

"Today's announcement falls short of providing the clarity and reassurance tenants worried about losing their home so desperately need," Ms Watson said.

“With unemployment rising and pressure on household finances increasing, the government must take concrete steps to keep people in their homes.

“It’s clear that ministers recognise the social case for an extension of protections against eviction. But struggling tenants need definite answers and legal protections now, not more fear and uncertainty.”

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