Following the introduction of a second national lockdown in England, the Government introduced a ban on evictions against residential tenants and restrictions on the seizure of goods inside someone’s home by bailiffs. The Government stated these measures were necessary because of the high risk of Covid-19 transmission and the difficulty in accessing public services when pressure on the NHS and local authorities was most acute. The restrictions will be in place over the mid-winter period.

Public health information has been a central tool in the Government’s fight against Covid-19. However, the public’s ability to obtain, process and understand health information is variable, with 61% of adults in one observational study struggling to understand health information that included both text and numbers. This article examines some of the barriers to understanding public health information, particularly in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. It also looks at what the Government is doing to improve levels of health literacy.

  • In Focus

    The draft Human Medicines (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 and the draft Medical Devices (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 seek to amend how clinical trials, medicines and medical devices will be regulated in both Great Britain and Northern Ireland after 31 December 2020, whilst taking into account the Northern Ireland Protocol. Under the Protocol, trade in goods between Northern Ireland and Ireland, and between Northern Ireland and EU Member States, will continue unaffected.

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    The Government has announced that the England-wide Covid-19 restrictions commonly referred to as ‘lockdown 2’ will not be renewed past 2 December 2020. The restrictions are to be replaced with a revised tier structure for England similar to the one in place before the second lockdown. The revised tiers form part of the Government’s Winter Plan, which was announced on 23 November 2020.

  • In Focus

    Medicinal and agrochemical products can be granted a Supplementary Protection Certificate, an intellectual property right associated with patents, to provide up to five years of additional rights and protections once their patents have expired. In order to apply for an SPC, a product must receive approval to be sold on the UK market. Under the Northern Ireland/Ireland Protocol, products to be sold in Northern Ireland must obtain approval under EU law, whilst products to be sold in the rest of the UK will obtain approval under UK law. Currently, this marketing authorisation is only given on a UK-wide basis. This regulation amends the market authorisation process to enable authorisations to be granted for the Northern Ireland market only and for the Great Britain market only.

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    There is currently a system for mutual recognition of health and social care qualifications within and between European Economic Area states and Switzerland. The UK has passed legislation amending its provisions in this area to take account of its exit from the EU. In recent agreements with Switzerland and the European Free Trade Area states, the UK committed to conditions for these countries which go further than the legislation that has already been passed. The European Qualifications (Health and Social Care Professions) (EFTA States) (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 would implement these commitments.

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    The UK will no longer be part of EU reciprocal and cross-border healthcare arrangements after the transition period ends on 31 December 2020. However, some groups of people will retain rights after this under the terms of the withdrawal agreement. The Government made regulations in 2019 to deal with reciprocal and cross-border healthcare if the UK left the EU with no ‘divorce’ deal. It is now planning to update these regulations to reflect the withdrawal agreement.

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    Almost 200 Covid-19 vaccine candidates are currently being developed. Ten candidates, including the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, are currently in largescale phase 3 clinical trials. This article provides an update on the Covid-19 vaccine, looking at when a candidate is likely to be available for deployment, who will be prioritised when a candidate becomes available, and how the vaccine will be distributed internationally.

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    The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 was the first UK legislation protecting disabled people against various forms of discrimination. Years of campaigning and protests led up to the passing of the act, including incidents of civil disobedience. This article tells the story of the act and looks at what came next for disability rights.

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    Following the announcement of a national lockdown to combat the spread of Covid-19 in March 2020, the Government restricted the availability of routine dental treatment. Although dental services have since resumed, it has been reported that treatment levels have not returned to pre-pandemic norms. Following the announcement that such services will not have to close during the second lockdown in England, this article explores what barriers there are to providing dental care because of Covid-19.

  • In Focus

    The UK legislation for the safety and quality of blood, organs, tissue and cells (including reproductive cells) is based on EU law. The European Union Withdrawal Act 2018 ensures that EU-derived domestic legislation will continue to have effect after the end of the transition period. In 2019, regulations were introduced to ensure that UK legislation in this area could function effectively after the transition period. However, Northern Ireland will remain subject to relevant EU laws as a result of the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol. This article looks at four statutory instruments that would amend the 2019 regulations and enable Northern Ireland to continue to meet EU law.

  • In Focus

    These regulations make it an offence not to self-isolate if instructed to by certain local authority and health officials. This would apply to those who have tested positive for coronavirus or who have been in close contact with someone else who has tested positive. The regulations came into force on 28 September 2020 and the House of Lords is due to consider them on 14 October 2020.