Monday November 29th, 2021 1:38AM

UK extends emergency coronavirus powers by 6 months

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

LONDON (AP) — British lawmakers agreed Thursday to prolong coronavirus emergency measures for six months, allowing the Conservative government to keep its unprecedented powers to restrict U.K. citizens’ everyday lives.

The House of Commons voted to extend the powers until September, and approved the government's road map for gradually easing Britain's strict coronavirus lockdown over the next three months.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s large Conservative majority in Parliament guaranteed the measures passed by a decisive 484-76 margin. But Johnson faced rebellion from some of his own party's lawmakers, who argued that the economic, democratic and human costs of the restrictions outweigh the benefits.

The Coronavirus Act, passed a year ago as Britain went into lockdown, brought in a wide range of temporary health, economic and social powers to deal with the pandemic. It gives authorities the power to bar protests, shut down businesses, restrict travel and detain people suspected of having the virus.

Heath Secretary Matt Hancock said Parliament had had to take “extraordinary measures in response to this extraordinary threat.”

But Conservative lawmaker Mark Harper, a leading lockdown skeptic, said he had not “heard a single good answer” as to why the British government needed to extend the “draconian” powers for another six months.

The opposition Liberal Democrats opposed the extension, with leader Ed Davey saying it gave ministers “a blank check to use draconian powers they don’t need.” Former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn also spoke out against them, saying “our liberties are at stake.”

Britain has recorded more than 126,000 coronavirus deaths, the highest toll in Europe. But the U.K.'s fast-moving vaccination program has so far given at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to more than half of its adult population, a far better record than the European Union's much-criticized vaccine rollout.

Virus infections and deaths in Britain have fallen sharply in the last month even as they are rising in much of Europe.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of the National Health Service in England, said Thursday that English hospitals were treating about 4,000 coronavirus patients, down from 34,000 in mid-January. He said the health system’s coronavirus alert level should be lowered from 4 to 3 on a five-point scale because the pressures on the system had eased.

The British government is gradually lifting a national lockdown. Children returned to school on March 8 and shops, hairdressers and outdoor dining are to reopen on April 12, followed by indoor venues on May 17. Remaining restrictions are to end June 21, if the country is not facing a new virus surge.

Hancock said infections were likely to rise as society opened up, but thanks to vaccines that would not automatically mean more virus-related deaths. But he said it was still right to proceed with caution.

“We must restore the freedoms that we all cherish, but in a way that doesn’t put the (National Health Service) at risk,” he said.

Some lawmakers were concerned about suggestions that people in Britain may have to prove they have been vaccinated in order to travel, attend mass events or even go to the pub. The government is studying proposals for “coronavirus status certificates” and says it will lay out its plans next month.

Johnson conceded there were “moral complexities” around the proposal, since some people cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.

The idea of “pub passports” has been strongly criticized by restaurant and bar owners. Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the UKHospitality trade body, said the idea was “simply unworkable.”


Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at, and

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Health, AP World News, AP Business, AP Business - Economy
© Copyright 2021
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
UK extends emergency coronavirus powers by 6 months
British lawmakers have agreed to prolong coronavirus emergency measures for six months, allowing the Conservative government to keep its unprecedented powers to restrict U.K. citizens’ everyday lives
1:42PM ( 6 minutes ago )
UN-backed vaccine delivery program warns of supply delays
The U.N.-backed program to ship COVID-19 vaccines worldwide has announced supply delays from an Indian manufacturer, in a major setback for the ambitious rollout aimed to help low- and middle-income countries fight the pandemic
1:37PM ( 11 minutes ago )
Biden doubles goal of COVID vaccines to 200 million doses
President Joe Biden has opened his first formal news conference with a nod toward the improving picture on battling the coronavirus
1:31PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
EXPLAINER: What we know about a ship blocking the Suez Canal
A giant backhoe and a squadron of tugboats look minuscule against the cargo ship’s bulk, demonstrating the enormity of the challenge at hand: freeing the wedged, skyscraper-sized container ship that has blocked the entire width of the Suez Canal and created a major traffic jam on one of the world’s most crucial trade routes
12:58PM ( 50 minutes ago )
Wyoming election changes pushed by Donald Trump Jr. fail
Wyoming lawmakers have rejected a measure requiring candidates to win a majority of votes in primaries to avoid runoff elections
12:54PM ( 54 minutes ago )
Colorado shooting suspect makes his 1st court appearance
The suspected gunman in the Boulder supermarket shooting has appeared in court for the first time
12:52PM ( 56 minutes ago )
AP National News
Science panel: Consider air cooling tech as climate back-up
The National Academy of Sciences says the U.S. needs to consider the idea of a climate change emergency plan: Cooling the air with technology
11:43AM ( 2 hours ago )
UK set to extend emergency coronavirus powers by 6 months
British lawmakers are voting on whether to prolong coronavirus emergency measures that have given the government unprecedented powers to restrict U.K. citizens’ everyday lives
11:15AM ( 2 hours ago )
WWII codebreaker Turing honored on UK's new 50-pound note
The rainbow flag is flying proudly above the Bank of England in the heart of London’s financial district to commemorate World War II codebreaker Alan Turing, the new face of Britain’s 50-pound note
10:22AM ( 3 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
US general: Afghans need US troops to counter Taliban
The top general for U.S. Special Operations Command has told Congress that Afghanistan’s military forces need U.S. assistance to successfully counter the Taliban
12:43PM ( 1 hour ago )
New US sanctions target military conglomerates in Myanmar
The United States is imposing what it calls its strongest sanctions to date over the military coup in Myanmar
12:39PM ( 1 hour ago )
Israel's Netanyahu appears to fall short of election win
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears to have lost his final hopes of winning elections
11:58AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Deadlock prevails as tallying resumes in Israeli election
Vote tallying in Israel has resumed in the deadlocked parliamentary elections held earlier this week, with neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor those determined to topple him gaining a clear path to forming a government
8:51AM ( 4 hours ago )
The Latest: EU leaders face surge of cases, vaccine issues
European Union leaders are meeting to look for ways to ramp up COVID-19 vaccinations across the 27-nation region amid a shortage of doses
8:22AM ( 5 hours ago )
Greek Independence Day events culminate in military parade
Greece has celebrated its independence bicentennial with a military parade that included fighter jets flying over the ancient Acropolis and tanks rumbling past Parliament in central Athens
8:03AM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
South Africa's ex-president should be jailed, argues lawyer
Lawyers for a commission investigating corruption in South Africa have asked the country’s highest court to jail former president Jacob Zuma for failing to cooperate with its probe
12:46PM ( 1 hour ago )
Romanian police protest cutbacks, poor conditions
Hundreds of police have protested in the Romanian capital of Bucharest over cutbacks and poor working conditions
12:05PM ( 1 hour ago )
Myanmar junta uses force on streets; US, UK target finances
As Myanmar’s junta used violence again to try to suppress protests against the military’s takeover, the United States and Britain announced tough sanctions against two holding companies that provide financial sustenance for the army regime
11:27AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP World News
Stocks wobble as oil falls back, Wall Street keeps churning
Stocks are wobbling in afternoon trading Thursday as a slide from technology companies is being offset by banks amid stabilizing bond yields
12:54PM ( 54 minutes ago )
The Latest: Germany wants negative test for plane arrivals
Germany will require negative coronavirus test results from all travelers entering the country from abroad by plane, the health ministry says
12:32PM ( 1 hour ago )
Iceland introduces restrictions after UK variant is detected
Iceland’s government has ordered schools closed and halted public gatherings after detecting six people believed to have the coronavirus variant first found in Britain
12:14PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
Stocks open lower, pulled down by drops in energy companies
Stocks are slipping in early trading on Wall Street Thursday, with energy stock taking the hardest hits as the price of oil falls back, despite a round of encouraging reports on the economy
9:45AM ( 4 hours ago )
World markets mixed after tech sell-off on Wall Street
World shares are mixed and U.S. futures have edged higher
4:43AM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Business - Economy
Biden doubles goal of COVID vaccines to 200 million doses
President Joe Biden has opened his first formal news conference with a nod toward the improving picture on battling the coronavirus
1:31PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Buttigieg pitches infrastructure needs to divided Congress
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg says America's infrastructure needs exceed $1 trillion and improvements to roads, bridges and highways can no longer ignore the reality of climate change
1:30PM ( 18 minutes ago )
Democrats plan Senate action on hate crimes, voting rights
Democrats are vowing action on several of their top priorities in April
1:28PM ( 20 minutes ago )
Shipping losses mount from cargo vessel stuck in Suez Canal
Dredgers, tugboats and even a backhoe have failed to free a giant cargo ship wedged in Egypt’s Suez Canal as the number of stacked-up vessels unable to pass through the vital waterway climbed to 150 and losses to global shipping mounted
1:25PM ( 23 minutes ago )
The Latest: Biden pledging 200 million doses in 1st 100 days
President Joe Biden is pledging to have 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered by the end of his first 100 days in office
1:24PM ( 24 minutes ago )