Draconian lockdown laws imposed one year ago have been extended for a further six months, despite a major Tory revolt.
The Coronavirus Act – granting powers over everything from school closures and public gatherings to the detention of infected people – was renewed by MPs, by 484 votes to 76.
Conservative anger centred on the decision to renew the crackdown until October – three months beyond the promised lifting of restrictions in June, under Boris Johnson’s timetable.
Mark Harper, a leading Tory rebel, said June was “the roadmap’s supposed end”, warning: “A further renewal in October until March 2022 wasn’t ruled out by the government.”
Earlier, new regulations to authorise restrictions during the easing of the lockdown in the weeks to come were approved without a vote.
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The result was not in doubt once Labour confirmed it would continue to support the sweeping laws, despite raising doubts over whether the ban on protests is being lifted as promised.
The Act, imposed at start of pandemic – which requires fresh backing from MPs every six months – also grants powers over food supplies, as well as changes to sick pay.
During the debate, the health secretary Matt Hancock refused to rule out a further extension in the autumn, pointing to the threat from new Covid-19 variants emerging.
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