Coronavirus / Fundamental rights

Liberty calls for clear roadmap to rights

Posted on 25 Mar 2021

  • Parliament votes to renew Coronavirus Act despite 76 MPs rejecting divisive approach
  • Liberty welcomes reversal on minimum care standards
  • Government must set out roadmap reversing restrictions on rights

Liberty has called on the Government to set out plans to reverse restrictions on our rights and protect the most marginalised, after MPs voted to renew the Coronavirus Act.

Parliament voted to renew the Coronavirus Act, which became law a year ago today, 25 March, despite opposition from MPs from across the political divide, and a cross-sector campaign led by Liberty.

The human rights organisation called on MPs to reject the Act, and replace its dangerous powers with measures that provide more support, particularly for the most marginalised.

Liberty has been calling on MPs to reject the Coronavirus Act since the outset of the pandemic. Along with dozens of front-line charities, Liberty drafted alternative legislation – the Protect Everyone Bill – to create a pandemic strategy that prioritises support, not punishment.

The decision by MPs is a rejection of growing public support for a pandemic strategy that protects our rights, and ensures no-one is left behind. The campaign has gathered support from thousands of people and MPs from across Parliament.

Liberty’s Bill has gained widespread with the public and civil society with:

  • 7,400 people have written to their MPs using Liberty’s tool in support of the Protect Everyone Bill.
  • More than 50,000 people have signed Liberty’s petition calling for the Coronavirus Act to be repealed.
  • 27 charities and frontline organisations have signed on to Liberty’s campaign.

The draft legislation has also been adopted across by a cross-party coalition and the Gov has also committed to adopting elements of the Bill:

  • Eight MPs have signed on to Dawn Butler MP’s Coronavirus (No. 2) Bill, based on the Protect Everyone Bill, with the Prime Minister committing to read and respond to it.
  • The Liberal Democrats tabled an amendment to replace the Coronavirus Act with Liberty’s Bill.
  • Government has withdrawn parts of the Coronavirus Act that allowed councils to cut social care, but has retained sweeping powers that leave many – particularly the most marginalised – open to abuse.

Research by Liberty found there is overwhelming support for measures that provide more support, such as those provided for in Liberty’s Bill.

Research conducted by nfpSynergy on behalf of Liberty found 83 per cent of people are concerned about the impact of the pandemic on people made vulnerable. The polling also found that only a third (34 per cent) of people think the Government has treated everyone equally and fairly during the pandemic.

The Protect Everyone Bill prioritises support and centres public health rather than the Government’s current approach of coercion through threat of criminalisation or heavy financial penalties. The legislation covers 10 different areas, including policing, protections for protest rights, social care, housing, immigration and employment.

Liberty’s Interim Director Gracie Bradley said: “To get through the pandemic, we need to pull together and demand a response that protects us all. We need initiatives prioritising support and resources so we can all follow public health advice. It’s long past time the Government set out a clear plan for restoring our liberties, and protecting the most marginalised.

“We’ve shown that it’s possible to create a rights-respecting pandemic response, and a strategy that protects everyone. By renewing the Coronavirus Act today, politicians know that more of the most marginalised people will be left behind, and everyone’s freedoms will remain at risk. It is concerning that Ministers have clung to the draconian powers gained in an emergency, particularly while they try to push through further laws that restrict our fundamental rights.

“Ministers can still show they are willing to do what is needed to keep us all safe, by adopting the support measures we have put forward, and they must urgently commit to restoring our rights and freedoms as part of the roadmap out of the pandemic.”

Contact the Liberty press office on 020 7378 3656 / 07973 831 128 or

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