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The UK government is using coronavirus to attack our civil liberties

Many of the powers extended to the state amid the pandemic feel reminiscent of deeply problematic counterterrorism policies

Photo/Dom J

It is understandably difficult to focus on anything that doesn’t fall under the category of surviving the global Covid-19 pandemic, as more and more people lose their lives, loved ones, jobs and freedoms. But this exceptional period has also brought exceptional rules imposed from the top.

When the proposals of the UK’s Coronavirus Act were presented, concerns were raised over their impacts on civil liberties. From shutting down public meetings, to restricting people’s right to travel, to the use of surveillance technologies, many of the powers extended to the state felt reminiscent of counterterrorism strategies.

Indeed, even during this exceptional period when the entire world is fighting a deadly pandemic, the British state has modelled its response on measures expected to have a catastrophic impact on civil liberties.

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