News Inquests & Public Inquiries 10th Mar 2022

Draft Terms of Reference for Covid 19 Inquiry Finally Published

The Government has today published the long awaited draft terms of reference for the public inquiry into the COVID 19 Pandemic. The publication today is understood to have been preceded by consultation with the appointed Inquiry Chair, Baroness Hallett and work with ministers in the devolved administrations.

In examining the COVID 19 response and its impact, the draft terms of reference cover three areas:

Firstly, central, devolved and local public health decision making in relation to a number of matters including;

  • Preparedeness and resilience;
  • Availability and use of data and evidence;
  • Legislative and regulatory control;
  • Shielding and the protection of the clinically vulnerable;
  • The use of lockdowns and other interventions such as social distancing and use of face masks;
  • Testing and contact tracing and isolation;
  • Restrictions on attendance at places of education;
  • Housing and homelessness;
  • Prisons and other places of detention;
  • The justice system;
  • Immigration and asylum;
  • Travels and borders and;
  • The safeguarding of public finds and management of financial risk.

Secondly, the response of the health and care sector across the UK will be examined. This will include the management of the pandemic in hospitals, care homes and other care settings; the procurement of equipment and supplies including PPE and ventilators; and the impact of the pandemic for non-COVID related conditions.

Thirdly, the economic response to the pandemic and its impact, including government interventions such as support for businesses and jobs including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the Slef0-Emplyment Income Support Scheme, loans schemes and grants and; additional funding for relevant public services and; benefits and sick pay and support for vulnerable people.

The terms of reference include the aim of identifying lessons to be learned to inform the UK’s preparations for future pandemics. Of note, it is made clear that the Inquiry will “listen to the experiences of bereaved families and other who have suffered hardship or loss as a result of the pandemic”. It will also seek to “consider any disparities evident in the impact of the pandemic and the state’s response” and “have reasonable regard to relevant international comparisons”.

The current draft terms of reference are, on any view, broad and ambitious and underline the independent nature of the inquiry. It is reported that the final terms of reference will be published once Baroness Hallett has consulted with the public, including the bereaved families and other affected groups.

The full draft terms of reference can be found here.


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