September 2020

"Decision-making is no longer person centred; myths around Coronavirus Act powers abound."


On 26 March 2020 The Coronavirus Act was passed by the UK parliament at breakneck speed, giving the UK and devolved governments extensive powers to change the law, and providing permission to local authorities, police and other officials to suspend vital safeguards for us all.

Since lockdown, we have supported over 700 people accessing public services including their families and friends, and over 1000 people working in health and care services, advocates and campaigners. This briefing shares evidence from our work. It shows that since the Act came in, decisions across the UK, by Governments and in local areas, have compromised people’s rights. This ranges from withdrawing vital care and support that many people rely on to keep safe and well, through to refusals of treatment based on people’s age or disability.

On the 30 September, the House of Commons will hold the first 6-month review of the Coronavirus Act. The continuation of the Act without the necessary support to implement it or to monitor it’s use compatibly with the Human Rights Act  will lead to a continued precarious situation for human rights for people in already vulnerable situations in the UK. The Government must to commit to preserving people’s human rights and to democratic oversight. If this cannot be achieved with the Coronavirus Act in place, it must be scrapped.

Read our Briefing on 6 Months of the Coronavirus Act and our Call to Action to uphold people's human rights during the pandemic, shared with parliamentarians

We have written briefings for both the House of Commons and the House of Lords ahead of the debates and votes for the 6-month review of the Coronavirus Act. Click on the buttons below to read the briefings:


Find our more about the campaign to scrap the care related provisions of the Coronavirus Act here.  

Since lockdown in March 2020, BIHR has worked directly with 1700 people. Over the summer we have conducted research with 230 people with care and support needs (including disabled people and older people), frontline staff and community groups and advocates across Great Britain. The headlines from our research on people’s real-life experiences of the implementation of the Coronavirus Act in its current form are:

  • Over 15% of people have experienced the right to life not being protected because of reduced services or prioritisation of other services, with almost 10% experiencing the use of do not resuscitate orders being used without involving the person or being pressured into agreeing. 
  • Almost 30% of people have experienced care being taken away impacting their right to be free from inhumane or degrading treatment.
  • Over 50% of staff working in health and care experienced restrictions being put in place which negatively impact people’s physical and mental wellbeing.
  • 50% of staff told us they had experienced decisions being made which impacted people’s right to non-discrimination.