In true zombie apocalypse movie style, there are sweeping powers in the Corona Virus Bill in relation to “Potentially Infectious Persons”
What is a potentially infected Person (PIP) – we are all potentially infectious unless we’ve had corona, and if it is correct that your can have it twice, then we are all potentially infectious until we’ve had it twice….. but the Schedule 20 of the Corona Virus Bill doesn’t relate to “Any Person”….soo what does it actually mean?
Powers relating to potentially infectious persons
Schedule 20 confers powers relating to potentially infectious persons and makes related provisions
A person is “potentially infectious” at any time if—
(a)the person is, or may be, infected or contaminated with coronavirus,
and there is a risk that the person might infect or contaminate others
with coronavirus, or
(b)the person has been in an infected area within the 14 days preceding
The language of this part of the legislation leaves a lot to be desired. As any person may be, infected with corona virus (unless arguably they have had corona and have the anti-bodies), then the obvious wording could have been “Any person who has not had corona and recovered so that they have anti-bodies to the virus” (i.e. COVID-19 Recovered Individuals or CovRIs) but the legislation chose not to refer to recovered people (CovRis) so the draftsman clearly wanted to cover those infected. so sub-paragraph a) must mean a person who is infected or contaminated with the virus ……but as the power is one where police have powers to detain etc, then they obviously can’s and aren’t expected to do the test instantly, …..the police can therefore suspect that you “may be” infected. As established above, as it isn’t an “Any Person may be a potentially infectious person” interpretation, then the intention of the draftsman must be that a police or health officer gets powers if they reasonably suspect that a person is or may be infected …i.e. they are exhibiting symptoms.
And what of “contamination”, this is so poorly drafted as to be meaningless…. the medical advice is you can be contaminated by touching a door handle or railing….so what was the intention of the ‘contamination” provision. This is probably designed to catch the handful of people who will deliberately go out of their way to contaminate others with Corona, those disturbed individuals who have corona or have family with corona and use infected tissues etc to try to contaminate others.
So …assuming you are a PIP, what happens? Powers to direct or remove persons to a place suitable for screening and assessment arises….Yes you can be taken away to be tested if a public health officer PHO has reasonable grounds to suspect that a person in England is
potentially infectious. The PHO can “direct the person to go immediately to a place specified in the direction which is suitable for screening and assessment” and if they don’t go voluntarily then they can be “removed to a place suitable for screening and assessment” – presumably by force, and similarly the PHO can request a constable to remove the person to a place suitable for screening and assessment (and the constable may then do so).
However under s6(3) the PHO can only exercise the power in relation to a PIP if the officer considers that it is necessary and proportionate to do so
(a)in the interests of the person,
(b)for the protection of other people, or
(c)for the maintenance of public health
However, although this is a wide test, the PHO will have to be certain of being able to prove that they are acting in the interests of the PIP (difficult if they turn out to be healthy and were not showing symptoms of corona and especially so where the PIP says “I have all the symptoms of influenza and not corona” or where the PIP doesn’t have symptoms. The protection of others would only arise in circumstances where they are at risk – if infected – of contaminating others, so it is unlikely to arise in relation to the non-symptomatic in open public spaces. The only other grounds are the maintenance of public health, which is a really difficult argument because the scientists don’t agree whether lockdown is best or whether letting the healthy get infected is best because it creates herd immunity.
,,,,and that is before the test of whether the maintenance of public health is tested against the road traffic deaths in the UK annually and the argument surrounding acceptable death rates.