Emergency coronavirus legislation to be published

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Emergency legislation to tackle the coronavirus outbreak will be published in Parliament after Boris Johnson announced the closure of schools and cancellation of exams.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock will table the Emergency Coronavirus Bill setting out measures aimed at slowing the spread and supporting the NHS and workers in the Commons today.

The legislation will be presented as the Army prepares to help out in the crisis and Londoners faced the prospect of greater restrictions, with the capital suffering a faster spread of Covid-19.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson told talkRADIO that shutting schools was a decision he “would never wanted to have made”.

“The only reason that we’re doing this is because the medical and scientific advice has said that by doing this it reduces the spread of the virus and we all recognise that we need to be doing absolutely everything that we can do to reduce the spread, preserve life and make sure people stay as healthy as possible,” he told Julia Hartley-Brewer.

Mr Williamson added: “I think it’s the right thing to do though it’s just such the last thing I ever thought I would have to do as Education Secretary.”

WATCH: Lord Adonis calls for guaranteed college and university offers for students

The move to cancel exams has raised questions for students looking to enter further or higher education in the Autumn, which would otherwise have been grade dependent.

Former Labour education minister Lord Andrew Adonis called for GCSE and A Level student to be given “guaranteed” places at college, sixth form or university.

“Young people have got to have the certainty of knowing what is going to happen in October,” he told Julia.

“The offers have been made usually on the basis of predicted grades and so it looks to me to be a rough and ready matter of justice that they should have those offers given.”

So far, 104 people have died after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK and tens of thousands of people are thought to be infected.

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