THE government is to introduce an emergency Coronavirus Bill giving the police powers to detain people and put them in appropriate isolation facilities, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced tonight.

The measures, which will give ministers powers to take prompt action to respond effectively to the progress of the Covid-19 outbreak, will be introduced to Parliament this week.

The Bill will allow recently retired NHS staff and social workers to return to work without negative repercussions to their pensions to ease pressures on the health and care workforce.

NHS staff will also be covered by a state-backed insurance scheme to ensure they can care for patients if they are moving outside their day-to-day duties.

Paperwork will be reduced to help doctors discharge patients more quickly when clinically appropriate to free up hospital space for those who are very ill and enable clinicians to focus on delivering care.

Volunteers will have extra employment safeguards, allowing them to pause their main jobs for up to four weeks to help care for patients and will receive a flat rate of compensation to mitigate lost earnings and expenses.

Changes to councils’ duties under the Care Act will enable them to prioritise people with the greatest needs and make the best use of the adult social care workforce

Other measures in the legislation include:

● allowing police and immigration officers to support and enforce public health measures including powers to detain people and put them in appropriate isolation facilities if necessary to protect public health;

* giving police and officials powers over events and gatherings;

● making arrangements for statutory sick pay for those self-isolating without symptoms from day one;

● allowing small businesses to reclaim statutory sick pay payments from HMRC

● allowing more phone or video hearings for court cases to stop the spread of the virus in courts;

● enabling the UK Border Force to temporarily suspend operations at airports or transport hubs if there are insufficient resources to maintain border security;

* enabling the death management system to deal with increased demand for its services while managing the deceased with respect and dignity; and

* measures to support the food industry in maintaining supplies.

The Bill, which's provisions are time-limited to a maximum of two years, allows the four UK Governments to switch on these new powers when they are needed to switch them off again once they are no longer necessary.

Mr Hancock said:“We are doing everything we can to protect lives and support the NHS, guided by the best scientists and clinicians in the world.

“The new measures we will be introducing in the Emergency Coronavirus Bill this week will only be used when it is absolutely necessary but crucially they give the government the powers it needs to protect lives."