Unprecedented curbs on civil liberties introduced under the Coronavirus Act must be repealed as soon as the original justification for the measure is met, a free market thinktank has urged, warning of the danger of 'goalposts being moved'. In a report entitled Liberty After the Lockdown, the Institute of Economic Affairs says that none of the emergency legislation and enabling regulations should be retained.
The 356-page Coronavirus Act passed through the House of Commons without a vote in four days.
Report author Christopher Snowdon warns that ’prolonged exposure to draconian regulations will normalise illiberalism’ and isolated benefits from the current restrictions, such as lower crime rates, ‘will be used to promote illiberal policies in the future’.
Snowdon notes that the sole justification given by the prime minister for the lockdown announced on 23 March was to prevent NHS services being overwhelmed by Covid-19 patients. However 'there is a danger of these goalposts being moved.'
’The lockdown has shown us, in an extreme way, the value of liberties we normally take for granted. As soon as the worst of the current crisis is over, freedom should be fully restored.’
’None of the emergency legislation should be retained when normality resumes. Civil society and the media should maintain pressure on the government to repeal the Coronavirus Act and its associated regulations, in full, as soon as the original objectives have been achieved.’